Thunder crashes and lightning flashes outside, sporadic arms of light reach across the sky; the clouds like an Ansel Adams photograph, and the rain like Noah’s flood.
A house with rickety walls, a ramshackle roof. The windows shake. No electricity or artificial light cast their pale glow upon the scene, inside the furniture and little boy are lit by strobes of brilliant white. The shadows cast are long and quick, the corners shrouded are unlit.
He’s seven years old, and seventeen days. His parents sleep like babes upstairs. He too should be in slumber’s grip, but drawn to waking by the storm he finds himself wandering the house at night.
Tow-headed, a ribs-showing skinny, curious eyes cast about the maze of flashing light and familiar objects turn strange and tall. For a while, he is content to sit, on the living room floor by the brightness lit. Staring out at the sky and the chariots of wrath, listening closely to the pattern of the rain as it splats and slams against the speckled pains of glass.
A rustling sound catches his ear, the pitter-patter of tiny hands on hardwood. The little boy drops to all fours, and looks under his father’s raggedy chair. A small white mouse, with pink eyes; an intruder in an otherwise solitary and monochromatic setting. The mouse wiggles his nose, and the boy does the same, squeaking at the mouse trying to invoke a reply.
The mouse just sits and stares, looking back with a matched curiosity, uncertain if he should flee or remain completely still. The boy, bony-awkward, reaches out a freckled hand; a welcoming posture of invitation. Patiently he waits for a response. With quick but apprehensive movements, the mouse crawls near, curiosity supplanting fear, and with trepidation climbs into the outstretched palm.
A death-tight grip crushes tiny bones and sinew pops, a scratching squeal of sudden terror silenced in a tiny freckled fist; and thunder cracks and rolls across the plain.
Then, spying underneath the stair a smallish scar, a crack of darkness leading down into the walls; the boy becomes a mouse. Pale white, a contrast to the waving shadows, the boy-mouse runs, and dives into the black. A new father for the mouslings hidden, a husband to a widowed rodent wife.
And the storm drowns on, pouring rain into the cracked and barren farmland.
Read more like this in my latest chapbook: Milk & Honey