Zelma Cable

[FICTION] Bluegrass Backyard

The tears of Old Man Winter have yet to freeze, and my red-and-gold tinged world shivers in disgust at the thought of being tossed into the attic for another year. My deep brown hair slashes across my pale face, my hot pink sweats are soaked, my skin tingles with each thick drop that crashes into me – I can’t stop giggling. The flitting fireflies have fled my backyard, leaving me to run in circles until the porch light is everywhere at once. My arms are reached towards the heavens as though an angel might decide to pick me up for a moment. Stars, veiled by dense black clouds, push through, sneak through, fight through to steal a glimpse at my spectacular display.


Daddy cut the grass earlier today and the shredded bluegrass blades glom onto my old white sneakers, lightly tugging me toward the earth. This backyard is my home, and my body seems to understand that this is where my roots should lie. My un-calloused hands seep into the earth and the rest of my body follows, only to flip to my back seconds later. Our tiny two-person swing set creaks in the wind as I press further into the Kentucky dirt. I render myself prone to the welcome advancements of thousands of blinding droplets. My eyes seal shut. My ears remain open. I still can’t stop giggling.


I wait and wait and wait and wait for the harsh clap of thunder that will inevitably lead to an insanely bright streak of lightning. Mommy says I have to go inside when that happens, but I’ll probably linger here a little longer. This is a rare opportunity to embrace the unexpectedly intense sensations swirling around me, and I will not give it up so easily.


Just days ago, my brother chased me around this two-acre lot with a water gun. He’s even smaller than I, so I let him catch me a few times before I’d get him back. I was soaked, but not like this. No – tonight I am drenched: saturated to the core in a whole-hearted baptism, and God’s cool breath lifts me higher and higher. Miniature mountain ranges sweep the landscape of my body and the valleys are flooded with this holy water as my eyes force out salty joy to anoint my cheeks.


Earlier today, my third-grade teacher said that a thunderstorm was coming tonight, and I didn’t believe her. I said that thunderstorms don’t exist because you can’t have a storm that’s just thunder. As I need a friend and a brother, thunder needs the rain and lightning for playmates. She didn’t believe me either.


Now, as I lay here in the murky brown slush that has surely ruined my second favorite set of sweats, I realize she was right. Even without the rain and the clouds and the stars and the beautifully orchestrated chaos, my mind would whirl with thunder. In this backyard room of curiosity, that becomes ever clearer. Every bird flying across the ceiling, every itsy-bitsy-spider finding refuge under the floorboards, every squirrel climbing up the walls is thunder: the raucous marriage announcement for reality and imagination. It is in this tranquilly tumultuous room that I feel I most belong.


My ears ring when the storm finally shows its voice and I swear I can see the sound across my dark eyelids.


Zelma Cable is a current high school senior attending school in northwest Georgia with a passion for creative writing. She has won a number of awards in creative writing including First Place in the 2014 GA Commission on the Holocaust Creative Arts Student Contest, Honorary Mention in the 2016 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, and First Place in the 2016 Carson McCullers Literary Awards. She looks forward to furthering her education in the literary arts while at the University of Montevallo, where she will begin school in the fall of 2016.

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