What he talks about. . .
What he talks about is the wind.
Dad had always mentioned the wind. Always. Mentioned it because it was annoying, because it reduced television channels, because it was weather, and that was always something for Americans to talk about.
After our summer storm damage, it was more than talk, it was worry. He worried because the wind had ripped trees from the ground, because it destroyed the chimney and other aspects of the roof, and yes, it bumped the antenna that permanently disturbed the television channels. Ironically, I had been happier with those southern facing channels, especially Telemundo.
In November the branches thrashed again. “Maybe we’re okay. Except for the connector line through my woods.” He stared at the once upon a time orchard. He shook his head and looked forward out the north window again. “Their support is gone. Trimmed. What the tree service took, those sideways branches, the shorter ones. There’s nothing to lean on.”
What he talks about is talking.
Dad had always followed, listened, repeated the radio, the television, the people he met at the gas station or the grocery store. Mentioned the talking, the viewpoints, because it was unfathomable, unthinkable, just unlikely that they didn’t know history, world history, his history, any history. Repeated the talking, because it made him feel strong, made him feel smart, made him feel energized in the processed sugar way that only discontent can.
These past months, his questions had become more real and less designed to elicit reactions. Any questions jutting outward were actually knives turned onto himself, unsheathed like the pages of the history books he loved, and now he wondered if he could forgive, for lying to him. Intentionally, I climbed the stairs to my room, more comfortable with the silence. His emotions filled the space so what was I to do with mine without the air to voice them.
In November one day came to change it all. Fixed, like the roof after three years of waiting for the workmen. Repaired, like the chimney only by favor for a job too small for anyone to want to do. Carved out, like the trees who offended the lives we’re supposed to have and the tools that get us there. Of course, the electric lines can’t move, the road can’t narrow, business of business can’t be bothered. So, the trees were cut to bend the other way.
What he talks about is counting.
Dad had counted the days since four years ago. First in months and then in years, because it was disgusting, because it was unimaginable, because counting was the only kind of waiting we could do. Last week during the howls, the threat no longer existed from the trees since removed. The wind exhaled bleak November screams and cutting sunlit swaths. Nervously, I stared into the mirror and check my eye to make sure the cut is not worse, no swelling, less redness, just a scratch.
Election night I woke up every couple of hours. I didn’t even know why. I heard my dog’s stomach gurgle before I felt the bubble and tumble and roil of my own. Simply by proximity, without intent, I affected him. It’s a sensation and a sickness I created for myself that I passed to others. I listened to the other dog’s stomach groan. Their consequence from my imagination of what hasn’t happened, might never happen, yet or next. In the morning, I took them out. We walked the barely lit road and standing on the edge of my least favorite intersection, I raised my head and read the speed limit sign. 45. Wind gusts. 45. President. 45.
In November, there are two types of wind to predict, two ways for equilibrium to swing and swish and try to right itself.
“I hoped for a wave.”
“I’m still disappointed, bec-” I started.
He interrupted and filled in my why, then adds, “It’s close, should have expected. But I’d rather be ahead than behind.”
“No, that’s not-” I sighed.
He provided another answer to supplant my own and continued, “More votes are counted. He didn’t need Pennsylvania.”
Bellicose rants. Insidious whispers. Elections and storms. Pollsters and meteorologists, neither have to be right to do their jobs. Neither have to pick up the pieces. Neither have to apologize because everyone knows we can’t possibly get what everyone wants, except the real issue is what we don’t bother wanting for each other. Today, it was still windy.