The smell was noticeable – undeniably so. His nostrils tingled from it, as sharp as his mind had been as a young boy when he’d first encountered it and learned to thirst for it. It caused the hair on his arms to stand, as if they were rejoicing together in chorus. He took three steps and looked up from the middle of his barren field, into the heavens. When the first ping splashed off the deep crease in his forehead, he tilted his head back and closed his eyes, spreading his calloused hands as wide as the smile on his face, to catch the next few that followed. A sweet minty smell lingered, then the musty odor of geosmin throughout the damp earth rose up the moment his knees hit the ground. Behind shaded eyelids, his gratitude reverberated in a dance that kept time to the cadence of the rainfall. He envisioned lush green shades of certainty surrounding him, regardless of the direction he turned, replacing the dull, dried, cracking brown of a less embraced reality. He sucked in a deep, meditative breath to cleanse his parched soul.
“Alvin! Alvin!” He heard the familiar cry of his name, repeated again and again, as it resonated first from the porch, growing all the way to the field. “Al-vin!”
He didn’t open his eyes and look up at her until he felt her approach lightly disturb the soil. That is, after all, how he had processed everything that he held dear for his entire life – according to its interaction with the earth. He was a farmer by blood and trade, after all.
“I know, Bertha. I know,” he smiled, watching as she waved the television remote control around in her hand. “I heard it too. The weatherman said there’d be no chance of it today…or tomorrow…or for weeks to come for all he could tell.”
“He was still swearin’ by that, too, as my feet hit the porch, Alvin. Says there’s no sign of rain in sight, maybe for months to come. What if it’s just…?”
“Shush, now, woman,” he chuckled, pulling her down next to him, as though they were as young as the day they first came out into this field together. Of course, the corn stalks were much higher and better at concealing their secrets in those days. “Let’s be careful of the voices we choose to hear, what say?”
He was discerning enough to recognize that a couple of splashes trickling down his wife’s face were warmer than the rest. He smelled their saltiness, too, as he nuzzled in and kissed both her cheeks while she stared up at a large cloud cover sitting squarely on top of them, with a deluge pouring down from the heavens – in just the right amount. The floodgates that opened weren’t so heavy to swamp their field; and they weren’t so spate to prevent the ground from soaking up the refreshing nourishment.
“Oh, Alvin. I’m so ashamed that I didn’t come out here with you today, especially after comin’ all those others. It just got to be…so tough, day after heat-filled day, to watch our crops drying up, with nary an answer on the horizon. But you…you remained faithful…”
“Didn’t I always tell you I would, woman?” His good-natured laughter lit up his leathery face.
“Yes, but…oh, you know what I mean!” She pushed against his chest in a mixture of flirtatiousness and embarrassment.
“It’s the exact same thing, Bertha – as with you and me. Don’t ya’ see? We’ve had our dry spells – but that didn’t keep me from comin’ out here every single day and doin’ what had to be done. And we’ve had our times of plenty – but that didn’t once cause me to go searchin’ somewhere else to spend my time than right here where I was meant to be. When I promised to be faithful to you…to us…watchin’ over and workin’ this land was all a part of that deal.”
“But I promised to be by your side. And I wasn’t today, was I…when your prayer got answered? I was inside, givin’ up; listenin’ to what some stranger had to say ‘bout the matter; believin’ him instead of what I promised to do – to be faithful.” She hung her head in shame.
He lifted her chin and gave her nose a playful tweak. “Ah now, woman, you weren’t too awfully far away, were ya’? I could still smell your gardenias out by the front porch. And I could smell that apple pie you were bakin’ in the kitchen. Beyond that, I caught a whiff of your chickens in their coop just before I felt that first drop of rain. Oh, and you left your laundry on the line….”
He pulled her back towards him as she looked towards her clothesline in distress. “Relax. We’ll gather it all up later, like we always do.”
“Do you ever miss a thing, Alvin? Anything at all?”
“Just one, Bertha. You – when you’re not around. But, I swear I believe I could hear ya’ callin’ my name all the way from two towns over if you needed me. You’re that much a part of me, woman. How much more faithfulness could a man stand?”
“Well, now that we’re soaked to the bone, would you care to come in and get some of that apple pie that’s coolin’ by the oven?”
“That’s what I love ’bout you most, Bertha. You’re such a temptress. And now that you smell like a mix of my God-given earth and this life-givin’ rain, I swear I won’t be able to resist anything you’re willin’ to offer.” He lifted his eyebrows twice over the twinkle in his old, gray eyes.
Bertha giggled like a school girl when she said, “Alvin, do you recall the first time we ever came out into this field together?”
“Forget that apple pie, Bertha. Let’s work us up a recipe for some mud pies instead…”
I ran across this site in my blogging travels and decided I needed to try it on for size. The size is 1,000 words (or less), which this post is exactly to the word count. (No, I’m not OCD. Okay, maybe a little, but only on specific occasions, when I’m not being ADD or any vast number of other in vogue acronyms.)
This challenge features a dual prompt which includes, for this week, a picture of a remote control and a first writing line that must read (I’ll bet you can guess this): “The smell was noticeable.” Other than that, I just know it has to be posted between Tuesday and Wednesday and must be either fiction or poetry. As is my custom, I never allow myself to read others’ work before submitting my own, so I’m uncertain as to the types of submissions to expect here. Nor can I guarantee that it falls into the category of being “more interesting than what’s on basic cable,” as “non-reality” television and Dateline repeating the same murder scenarios with different names has long exhausted my own interest. (Did that sound TV-snobbery enough for a writing community? Boy, I hope so! Just kidding!) 😉
So I’m thinking, let’s give this thing a whirl, what say?