A Gloom Reflected
Rain had stopped progress on the Jackson house for three days. The relentless deluge took its toll in a landslide that blocked Route 20 between Lerona and Pipestem. Work on the railroad between Athens and Hinton had come to a screeching halt. Tempers flared and fists flew at the tavern. Joel wasn’t hurt badly. He gave worse than he got, and it had been worth it to get away from Angel. There was nothing in life more irritating than a bored woman. And Angel was bored. She was the reason he went to the tavern in the first place. Well, that, and he was in the mood for some arm wrestling and dart throwing.
Angel paced her room, wearing a track in the braided rug her grandmother had made. Frayed threads poked up between the once neat rows of coiled scrap material. She looked around her room, stopping in mid stride.
The heavy brocade drapes did nothing to elevate her mood. Gloomy clouds and gloomy surroundings created a morose atmosphere. She walked to the window and yanked the drapes open. As the rain pounded the roof and pelted the window bolts of lightning split the sky and stabbed the ground. Two bolts collided and struck the Virginia pine that stood in the center of the six-tree border twenty feet from her window.
The tree split as it smoldered but did not catch fire. She jumped back in shock and stared as the electricity from the strike tingled through her body and made her raven black hair stand straight out. Yet she could not make herself move. Never had she seen a storm like this one.
Conscience pricked her. I deserve to die. God is giving me a warning because I killed my little brother. But I didn’t mean to, God. You know I didn’t.
Yes you did, her soul answered back. You hated him because your mother loved him more than you. Admit it.
Laughter bubbled from somewhere deep within, but it wasn’t funny. Was she a monster? Was God really giving her a warning? She had heard people say that God punishes the wicked, and she knew in her heart the adjective applied to her.
But if my parents loved me I wouldn’t be wicked. I would be sweet and nice. I would not have to find ways to punish myself and hurt others in the process. But I have a right to happiness. I have a right to be loved. But no one has ever loved me. I am too evil to love. So I will do my worst.
She reached up to close the drapes again. A figure stood outside, its back to her, looking up at the sky. The person wore no protective coat or hat; he seemed to be welcoming the storm. Then the figure disappeared. Was it real or was she losing her mind?
She closed the drapes and lit the lantern beside her cherry four-poster canopied bed. She took off her dress and put on her night clothes, then burrowed under the covers and hoped morning would bring sunshine. Another day of this rain may prove to bring huge problems for someone.
Photo by Thomas E. Dye