It was raining, really raining now, fat drops and enough wind to rustle the trees. If she closed her eyes, she would still know it was raining—drop, splat, rustle, rumble. The earth was doing what the earth does. No advice from her. No need.
The wind picked up and the song shifted—urgent now. The sound of water rushing out the gutters, down the sidewalk, into the street. Water wasted. She should have put in a rain garden. She knew that. Tomorrow.
Tomorrow when it's not raining, in the early morning before the sun is high in the sky. She’ll get a shovel and begin.
Does she even have a shovel?
Maybe he took the shovel—shovels. They had two. Maybe he took both shovels, thinking she’d never use them. Which she never had. But now. Well, now she’d use a shovel. She closed her eyes and imagined the weight of a shovel in her hand, heavy at one end. She could swing it and dig with it.
Swing it? She opened her eyes because she was thinking of swinging the shovel in the house, spinning around and around, hitting everything he didn’t take, everything he didn’t want, everything not good enough to take. She imagined herself in the middle of the house swinging a shovel that she might no longer own.
It was three days since she had come home from work and found him gone. Funny phrase. How can you find something that isn’t there? Discovered that he’d cleared out. All his clothes, half of everything else, sheets, towels, glasses. She now had service for 6. He’d insisted on Wedgwood; she hadn’t cared. But he took all the sharp knives, didn’t even leave a paring knife. You’re clumsy, he’d said a million times. I’ll do that. And take the knife from her hand.
But the shovel. She hadn’t checked the garden shed. It was still raining, still thundering, but she had to know. The shed was locked. She dashed back to the house, got the key, dashed across the yard, unlocked the door, ducked in. It was raining harder now. She let the door slam behind her. She fumbled for the string for the overhead light, pulled it on, blinked in the sudden illumination, held her breath. The shovels were there, both of them, and the rake, a hoe, a spade, the watering can, a spray attachment for the hose, tomato cages, the wheel barrel propped against the wall, exactly as they had been, unchanged, unravaged, intact, whole, the only space he didn’t empty.
The tears came quickly. She didn’t care. She took the shovel and went back to the yard. It was raining in earnest now, sharp drops that stung. She began digging where the rainspout gushed water, making a place for all that water to collect, water to feed the roots of the garden she’d plant as soon as the hole was dug and her mind was clear. Water, like tears, needed somewhere to go.
© 2016 Kathleen Coskran