Heather Conley

Will it ever Rain?

As I sit on the battered and creaking porch swing, holding my fresh, crisp copy of Wuthering Heights, I feel the sun beating down on me.  I become sweaty and sticky from the blistering heat of the summer.  I long for the setting described in Emily Brontë’s gothic novel:  the dark, chilly rain-covered moors.  Yet, here I am sitting in the scorching heat with my old t-shirt clinging to me.  Staring at the large mountain across the road, I am curious how it offers no shade at my grandparents’ house.

Maybe if my parents would trust me at home while they are at work all day, I wouldn’t have to spend the majority of my summer living at my grandparents’ house.  Then I could be spending the day in my breezy air-conditioned bedroom, with smells of Bath and Body Works’ Cucumbermelon, lying across my comforter of bright purple flowers with my bright white walls covered with the latest posters of the Backstreet Boys and Leonardo DiCaprio. Instead, I spend my summers trying to find solace in a house that is always bustling with family members coming and going, walls smothered with crookedly hanged photographs of me and my numerous cousins with sweet smell of oatmeal mixed with too much brown sugar.

I glance at the old ticking clock to check the time.  It’s only 1:00 PM.  I know I have quite some time to go before I get any relief from the heat. I wonder why my grandparents have a clock on the porch in the first place.  But I smile as I just brush off the porch-clock as another of my lovable mamaw’s oddities–along with the dozen of wind chimes that frame the porch and the weird ceramic frog with animated eyes and a smile so big you would think someone just told the corniest joke.

As I turn back to the captivating love story of Catherine and Heathcliff, I begin to hope for a breeze.  I attempt to will the wind chimes to move, but I only feel the beads of sweat roll down my legs.  I remember that Papa said it was supposed to storm, but looking at the bright blue sky, there is no sign of even the smallest cloud.  He must be wrong today.

I eventually realize that I need a break from the distant moors, when Mamaw asks if I want to walk to the mailbox with her.  Because I am sixteen-years-old, I groan about the excruciating half-mile walk in the searing heat with no shade.  Mamaw tells me to quit whining and put on my tennis shoes.  So, I do.  I secretly enjoy the walks with Mamaw, even though I would never admit it.  Spending days on end at her house is the best part of the summer, and now that I am entering my senior year of high school, I know these days in the mountains are numbered.  One day soon, I will leave for the collegiate world, drifting further and further away from my grandparents’ traditional values.

While I walk to the mailbox, I can hear the quacking of the ducks in the creek.  I look down the hill to see the fluffy ducklings splash and fall as they attempt to chase the bigger ducks on the rocks.  It seems like just yesterday those ducks were hatching in Mamaw’s incubator.  Time passes by so quickly.

I pass the giant oak tree that sits in my great-aunt’s yard.  I admire the strength and power that can only come from something that has taken so long to grow. I nod and ask questions as Mamaw talks to me about nature, pointing out the flowers along the one lane road.  I’ll never fully understand all of the technical language that she uses, but Mamaw is so passionate about flowers that hydrangeas and daffodils seem like works of art.  But ultimately, the bright blues and yellows of the petals only remind me of the intense sun in the sky.

Eventually I reach the mailbox at the main road.  Even though I think I am an adult, I roll my eyes as Mamaw tells I to be careful and watch for cars.  I don’t even have to cross the road to get to the mailbox.  My ears and eyes are both empty of any vehicle in sight.

As I walk back down the road, I pass my Papa plowing the field with his mule.  I laugh as Mamaw says something that can only come from a woman who has been married fifty years.  They may not be the most loving couple, but deep down, they would be lost without each other.  I admire my grandfather’s work ethic.  He may not be the most caring man, but he works hard.  And hard work is something that needs to be appreciated.  Thinking about the “men” my own age, I realize that hard work and manual labor are values that are almost obsolete.  At that moment, I decide to hold onto my grandparents’ traditions as much as I can as I transition into adulthood.

I hope that no matter how far I travel, I remember these mountains will always remain home.  There are too many stories, too many examples of my generation leaving southeastern Kentucky never to return.  But I don’t want to be stuck either.  I know so many people who, as my dad would say, never amount to anything.  Because they feel trapped by the mountains surrounding them.  Even as a teenager, I know I must find a balance.  I must break the cycle.  But I start to wonder, “Will I break the cycle?  Or will I just be another statistic, one way or the other?”

I inevitably make my way back to the old one-story, square, blue house with the wide porch and my beloved swing.  As I hold Mamaw’s hand, helping her up the lop-sided porch steps that my uncle built, I can feel the years in her soft but wrinkled hand.  And while it may seem like a silly thought for a teenager, I never want to let go of that hand, the hand that has seen so much life.  Suddenly, I begin to feel the breeze for which I have so desperately longed.

“Papa said it was going to rain,” Mamaw says so matter-of-factly, she might as well be saying, “I told I so.”  “Are you coming inside?” she asks once she notices that I am not heading toward the door.

“Nah,” I respond.  “I think I might sit out here for a little bit.”

As she walks back into the house, I immediately resume my place of honor on the rickety swing. I try to pull my sticky hair off the back of my neck, wishing my grandmother wouldn’t insist on long hair; maybe then my mom would let I cut it just a little bit. I turn back to the star-crossed romance of Catherine and Heathcliff listening to the rhythm of the swaying back and forth and the gentle roll of thunder in the distance.  The rain slowly begins to fall from the sky as I hear a symphony of wind chimes all around me.

Heather Conley is a 2008 graduate from the University of the Cumberlands with a degree in English education. Since graduating, Heather has been teaching English at North Laurel High School. Heather received an MAED for literacy specialist and is currently working on the teacher leader in English program at UC.  This is her first published work.