The rain stops, I wait for the song. It’s around noon, so there’s a chance it’s coming no matter what Mama says. She doesn’t believe in the music, but she can’t hear the way I do, just like I can’t see the way she does. She’ll be coming any minute to say we need to get outside for our daily dose of sun and fresh air.
The floor creaks in the hallway, two steps outside the bathroom door, seven steps from mine. Here she comes.
“Okay my little flower, looks like Mother Nature’s giving us a little sun time! Up and at-em!” she says, with a hint of forced joy. She’s down today. She always misses Dad in the rain. I always miss him when I smell coffee or rye toast.
“Is the sun actually shining Mama?” I ask, yearning for the warmth of it to melt away too many hours of forced air conditioned air off my skin.
“Looks like we have one more cloud to get out of the way. I’ll bet we have full sun by the time we get out the door.” She puts a tender hand in the middle of my back and I know she still thinks I need her guidance to “see” my way out of the house. It’s so hard for those of you with eyesight to get it. I have my own way to see around this world. My touch, my hearing, my memory — they all get me around with the same fluidity as you.
Mama grabs my elbow as I get to my feet and I realize she needs this touch more than I ever will, so I sink in and take the lift she offers.
Forty-two steps to the door. Two stairs off the porch. We sit down on the still-moist grass beneath us and I smell the irises I was named after. Mama planted all around the front of our home, there’s no way to ever get lost with that aromatic calling card always leading me back to my front lawn.
A breeze picks up, whistling through the fence that sits between our house and the Miller’s next door, then lifting the hairs on my arm .
“Bye-bye cloud,” Mama says and I can hear that her head is tossed back. She’s talking to the sky. “See you next time.” She’s talking to Dad. I put my hand on top of hers in the grass and toss my head back to get the full feel of the heat pouring down. And, as I do, the song begins.
It’s faint, but I hear the quiet melody of roses harmonizing with citrus — oranges, lemons, and limes — followed by the sweet song of ocean and sky, and the refrain comes to an end with midnight and irises. I begin to hum along and sway to the song from nowhere that no one else can hear and my heart breaks for all of you. How I wish I were talented enough to translate this into a composition to be played with man made instruments, though I doubt they are capable of bringing this beauty to life in the same way I hear it so clearly. My sun song, my after-rain reprieve, the melody of magic, of hope and joy, the musical mark that the storm has passed and Mama won’t be sad anymore.
I breathe deep, smelling the moisture cooking off the grass beside me while feeling just like an actual iris. I drink in both the water as it soaks into my jeans, and the sun as it beats down on my flesh. I curl my fingers around Mama’s, sure that these are the roots keeping me tethered to this Earth. That’s when a warm drop of moisture lands on the back of my hand. It’s not a raindrop.
“Mama, why are you crying?”
She sniffs quickly. “Baby, I’m sorry… I just…” She stops, exhales, and in between her breathing my sun song is getting louder. I know she’d be cured of all of this sadness if she could just hear one refrain.
Hear it, Mama. Just listen.
She breathes in again. “I just wish you could see it, even if it were just once. It’s a rainbow, Iris. It’s so beautiful.”
My own tear falls down where Mama’s had, not because I wished I could see, but because I realize that I did. “Mama, I can hear it.”
This story was written in response to a Flash Fiction prompt presented by Chuck Wendig on his blog terribleminds. This week Chuck challenged us to check out the Twitter account @MagicRealismBot and to pick a tweet to use as a prompt to write a story up to 1500 words long. This is the tweet I chose:
Rainbows and ears. That is all.
— Magic Realism Bot (@MagicRealismBot) July 8, 2017