by Abbie Johnson Taylor
“It won’t rain,” my friend Rose says when I call to ask her to pick me up for a writing workshop at the local library. I can’t drive, although I can see people and objects up close and read print if it’s large enough. I love to walk but not when storm clouds are gathering in the west, and the wind is picking up.
When I call Rose, she says, “I’m running late. Just start walking. It won’t rain.”
As I return my cell phone to my pocket, I think of my late husband, struck by lightning in a Missouri park years before he met me. He and a friend were lounging after a picnic lunch on a warm afternoon. The thunder clap and lightning bolt came from nowhere. His friend was killed instantly. He was treated for minor injuries at a nearby hospital and released.
“There’s nothing to do now but go,” I tell myself, as I finish my supper and prepare to leave. I read earlier that if you think something will or won’t happen, it usually does or doesn’t.
“It won’t rain,” I say to the dishes in the sink, as I rinse and put them in the dishwasher. I picture myself hurrying down the street, as ominous black clouds darken the sky. A thunder clap and a blinding light stop me in my tracks. I fall to the ground and am no more.
“It’s not going to rain,” I tell the mirror in the bathroom, as I’m washing my face. I picture heavy sheets of moisture drenching my dead body in the middle of the sidewalk.
“It will not rain,” I say to the bureau in my bedroom, as I apply lotion to my face and comb my hair. I think of my brother in Jupiter, Florida, answering his cell phone, hearing news of his sister’s demise, just what he needs after a long day of work.
I keep reassuring myself that I’ll be safe, as I pack everything I’ll need for the workshop: Braille notetaker, water bottle, magnifier, folder with Braille paper, and slate and stylus in case my notetaker’s battery dies. Finally, I can delay no longer. My talking watch tells me it’s six o’clock. I have half an hour to get there. “I’ll be able to take shelter along the way, if necessary,” I tell myself. I sling my backpack over my shoulders, pick up my cane, and step outside.
I look at the sky. To my surprise, I see no dark clouds, only white ones. As I start walking, a gentle breeze stirs the air, and I feel the sun’s warmth on my shoulders.
Note: The above memoir appears in the current issue of The Writer’s Grapevine, which can be read here. The workshop in question was on writing memoir and took place several years ago. The presenter asked us to write something about water. Thus, this piece was born.
Later, when I teased Rose about her ability to predict the weather, she pointed out that the dark clouds I saw were dissipating, and there were white ones right behind them. Why didn’t she tell me that when I called to ask her for a ride? Well, if she had, this memoir wouldn’t have been created.