You left me behind, walking with Brahms in your ears. Outside, nature’s conductor slashed her baton and created bayside darkness with one stroke. Thunder growled and I thought it was the garbage truck’s percussive movement down the salt and sand packed macadam. Facing the Gulf, the ocean pranced, cat paws of white foam hitting the beach like timpani mallets. October means the houses facing the ocean are empty, summer renters are gone and sea oats becoming the only audience on the beach, waving to the pelicans, and sharing their seeds with tiny, brown sparrows.
I went looking for you, past the construction of another house, workers sitting in their trucks, eating lunch at eight in the morning as the staccato of sand pinged outside. Cabbage and Pinto palm fronds rubbed like sandpaper blocks, missing the constant rhythm of rain. In the blackening clouds, school buses trumpeted out their cargo of stooped children hurrying past the playground, not seeing the coyote hovering in the shelter of an abandon carport.
I looked for you; heard a chorus chant, “The car is the safest place in a storm like this, unplug the phones, stay away from windows,” and I drove on, leaning into the windshield splattered with rain.
Lightning strikes again, ground to sky fissures hum and crackle. I drive faster, the tempo of my fear making me take turns too quickly for the sand and water rushing past. The crescendo of waves slamming the bulkhead, the high pitched whistle of the wind are haunting. We’ve lost people this year. I want you back complaining about the market, the cost of opera tickets, the nick in the wall. I see you long before you turn into the storm, your safari hat dripping water, shirt soaked completely. I tap the horn, as you turn toward the sound, your first words, “What took you so long?” The last passage of the eulogy for your mom, spoken aloud as if your dad was standing in the ethereal mist, conducting this symphony, searching for her in the storm.
Lynda Gerdin Webb has a MA from the University of Texas at El Paso where she studied fiction with Raymond Carver.