She hated the wind.
It made normal storms in to monsters. Rain became a hurricane. Snow became a blizzard. A thunderstorm became a tornado. A small spark would be turned in to a raging forest fire. Even just a windy day caused problems. Trees would topple in to power lines and the whole neighborhood would be plunged in to darkness. Car doors not held tightly would fly open and hit the car next to you. Screen doors would get caught in a gust and tear from their hinges. Dirt and sand would blow in your face scratching your eyes and filling your nose with grit. And the cold would settle in to your bones, blown deep in there by the wind, to not let go.
She hated the wind.
She hated the way her house would groan and creak as it was battered by the gales. She hated the way the metal vents would open and close banging and clanging on the side of the house. She hated the way it would die down making her think it was over, only to return worse than ever. Like the world had been taking a deep breath just to blow her over.
Little pig, little pig, let me in...
"The wind carries the memories of the forest..." STOP IT.
She hated the way wind could intrude on a beautiful day and turn it in to something else. Sunny skies and warm temperatures, changed by a picnic blanket that is grabbed like a sail and blown away, plates and glasses and food tumbling everywhere.
She hated the wind.
She hated the way the wind would rock her car when she was driving. She hated the way the wind would knot her hair as it blew across her head. Snatching away the hat she was wearing and blowing it in to a duck pond.
"I'm not chasing that, you are out of luck." SHUT UP!
She hated the wind...
She hated that she couldn't stop the wind from blowing. She couldn't block out the sounds of its gusts. She couldn't turn off the memories it brought flooding back.
She had taken her lunch out to a park bench by her office. It was too nice of a day to be locked inside. Or at least it had looked like it. When she got out there she realized it was really a little too windy for comfort, but she didn't want to eat at her desk one more day this week. She felt like she had been trapped inside for a month. So she made the best of it. She carefully tucked her lunch sack under her leg and munched away at her apple. There was a man playing fetch with his dog. After about the fifth throw the dog ran to her and dropped his ball at her feet, then put his giant slobbery head on her knee.
"RUFUS! RUFUS! Stop that! Come here! Leave the lady alone to eat her lunch in peace!"
She had laughed and picked up his ball, "It's okay, it's just a little slobber." She tossed the ball for Rufus to chase. He watched the ball fly a feeble distance away then put his head back on her knee with a sigh. She laughed again, "He does not seem impressed by my throwing skills."
"No, he's just waiting for you to tell him he can go. Tell him," he whispered, "zoom."
"Zoom?" And with that Rufus was off like a shot to get the ball and back again.
"Wow! That's quite the trick."
"My sister did most of his training. He was supposed to be a service dog, but he is a little too high energy for that. I said I would take him until the puppy wore off and he was settled. Well, he's four now so we've figured out that he is never going to settle down."
She reached down and scratched his ears, "Why would he? He gets to play fetch in the middle of the day this way." She picked up the ball and threw it again, this time it hooked and hit a tree bouncing backwards almost back to where there were sitting. "Zoom!" Rufus looked at the ball a few feet away and slowly got up to get it. He didn't even bother picking it up this time, just hit it with his nose so it rolled back to his owner.
"He's given up on me!"
They both laughed. "He's pretty opinionated. But take it as a compliment that he brought you the ball at all. He must have thought you needed to play. And then realized why you weren't." He laughed at his joke. "Oh, I'm Benjamin, by the way. Nice to meet you."
She reached out and took his hand. "I'm Trinity." And with that a gust of wind grabbed her lunch sack and blew it off the bench. It blew it right toward Rufus who jumped and caught it out of the air. He walked it back to her and dropped it at her feet. Soggy but recovered. She laughed again, "Thanks, buddy."
Then the wind came up one more time and snatched the hat off of her head blowing it up and over the path and dropping it in to the duck pond. Rufus sat down and made a harumphing noise. "He's saying, 'I'm not chasing that, you are out of luck.' He loves water but hates baths. He knows one dip in that sludgefest and it's off to the groomers for him!"
She reached up to try and hold her now tangling hair down, "I don't blame him at all! And, honestly, I never really liked that hat anyway. Thank you for the entertainment, I need to get back to work."
"Tell the nice lady goodbye, Rufus."
Rufus barked and Trinity laughed again.
The rest of her day had gone so well she decided that she really needed to make a habit of not eating at her desk. The fresh air had done her wonders. And that's what she was trying to convince herself of, that it was the fresh air, not Benjamin, that had made her feel so good. Should she have asked him for his phone number? She really didn't know anything about him except he owned a very pushy dog. Besides that she had never been the type to ask for a phone number, or to give hers to someone else. Every date she had ever had had been a set up from a friend. But still, maybe she would go to the park tomorrow and just see, she shook her head and knew that she wouldn't. She just wasn't that brave.
"A gentleman and his dog dropped this off for you at the front desk."
"A gentleman and his dog?"
"Yeah, really cute. The dog I mean. Well the gentleman was too, but anyway, they dropped this off."
The receptionist handed Trinity an envelope. Trinity was written on the front with both of the Is dotted with little dog foot prints. She smiled. Inside was an invitation to lunch the next day. "Same park bench, I'll bring the lunch and Rufus will bring his tennis ball?"
A few months later they were out hiking together and he stopped her, "Do you hear that?"
She listened for a minute. She could hear the birds, she could hear Rufus snorting around in the fallen leaves, and then she heard something else. Sort of a swishing sound. Or maybe a sighing sound. She couldn't decide what it was. "What is that?"
"That is the wind in the tops of the trees, look." Benjamin pointed up, and then she could see it. Just the very tops of the trees moving slowly in the wind. There wasn't even a hint of a breeze down in the canyon where they were hiking.
"I didn't think it was windy, it's not down here. Was it when we hiked in?"
"No, just up there. It's always windy up there. My mother used to tell me that the wind carries the memories of the forest. That's why it's always in the tops of the trees. That's where the new growth is. The trees are learning their history. The forest is telling itself its secrets."
She listened and watched, "That's lovely."
"So are you." And with that he kissed her.
They had kissed before, they had been dating for weeks by now. But this kiss, this was different. She broke off and took a step away from him. "Wow."
Rufus barked. They both laughed, "Yes, Rufus, wow!"
Benjamin looked up at the trees and shouted, "I LOVE TRINITY BECKER, ADD THAT TO THE MEMORIES!" Then he looked at her, "Yeah, so I love you, and I know it's fast but I don't want to see other people, and I don't want you to see other people and I really hope you are okay with this because I was not planning on doing it so, well, loudly."
She stepped back toward him and kissed him again, "Wow."
From that moment on they were a couple. Or a trio since Rufus was generally with them. Or waiting patiently for them to come home.
He had set up the picnic himself. It was in the park where they had first met. She had an idea what was coming but didn't want to say it out loud to herself. She didn't want to think it was happening and then have it not come true. She still didn't believe her good luck. Benjamin was incredible. He was smart and funny and gorgeous.
She had met his family and he had met hers and that had gone well. More than well, actually, she had loved Benjamin's large, loud, family and all of their dogs and birds and cats and fish and, well, it was a zoo really. A loud, loving zoo. And he had connected with her small, quiet, bookish family. He had played chess with her younger brother beating him two games out of five. Not bad, not bad at all. Rufus had won her mother over very quickly. Growing up it was a strict no pets on the furniture house but within 15 minutes Rufus had convinced her that he was really the world's largest lap dog and it was her lap that he should use.
Things couldn't have been better. But she still didn't want to think too much about what she thought was going to happen. Because if she was wrong it was going to hurt too much to bear. And that was the truth.
"Hey! We are having a picnic here! Why do you look like your dog ran away?"
Rufus, who had been lazing in the sun, raised his head and looked at them making a gruff huffing noise, then he laid his head back down for more sun bathing.
"See? He's right there. Lazy as the day is long. But right there."
She smiled, "Sorry, just a random unimportant thought, what do we have here?"
They unpacked the rest of the basket and started to eat lunch. There was a young family playing nearby. Mom and Dad and two boys. The boys were wearing capes pretending to be super heroes. "Do you want kids?" Benjamin asked.
"Yeah, I do. How about you?"
"At least a dozen."
She choked on her iced tea, "A dozen?"
He smiled, "Three. But if you start with three it sounds like a lot. But I want three."
"You could have just started with three. That doesn't sound like too many to me."
"That's good because..."
The boys ran closer to their blanket chasing each other around.
"You can't catch me!"
"Yes, I can...watch! ZOOM! ZOOM!"
And with that Rufus was awake and on his feet running after the mystery tennis ball that must have been thrown somewhere. The boys screamed with excitement and Benjamin jumped up to corral the dog. When he stood up the ring he had been hiding in his hand flew in to the grass. "Oh no!"
"Get Rufus, I'll look for the ring."
Benjamin shrugged his shoulders and held up his hands, "Surprise?" They were both laughing now.
As soon as they were all off of the blanket a gust of wind swept in catching the edge and tossing it, and all of the picnic supplies in to the air. The plates, glasses, food and napkins all went flying. Then as quickly as the gust came, it went and everything fell back to the ground in a pile. Rufus deciding that he had been tricked and there was no ball came back and sat down in the middle of the pile of their former picnic. Benjamin came running back over to them laughing, "You crazy dog!"
Trinity looked up at him standing over her, the dog and mess that was their lunch and held out the ring, now in her hand. "Benjamin Massey will you do me the great honor of becoming my husband?"
Benjamin threw his head back and laughed and laughed. "Not how I planned it, but YES!"
She was standing at the kitchen stove stirring a pot of spaghetti sauce. The news was on the television behind her. She was half listening waiting for the weather report. They were planning on heading to the mountains tomorrow afternoon for some snowshoeing. She had gotten the all clear from her obstetrician for more physical activity, though snowboarding was off the list. She had even bought Rufus some dog snow shoes. They were supposed to protect his pads from the ice. She thought he would look cute in them as well.
The storm in the mountains bringing all the fresh snow had only brought a little rain and wind to the valley so she was hopeful it would be good conditions tomorrow. As long as the pass was clear they were ready to go. She hummed to herself. Life was good. She place one hand on her expanding belly. So very good.
"...a tragic reminder that an intersection without a working traffic signal should be treated as a four way stop..."
She turned to look back at the TV and saw they were reporting on an accident. The power had been out and one car ran through the intersection t-boning a car already...she walked toward the TV. She fell to the ground just as her phone started to ring.
Everyone had been so nice. So caring. Could they do anything? Could they help in anyway? She had just shaken her head. No they couldn't help. Unless they could go back in time and stop the car from plowing through the intersection. Or could have controlled the weather so the wind hadn't knocked the tree in to the power lines. Or maybe they could have prevented her from falling down and hitting her stomach on the edge of the end table. She lost everything that day. Everything. So, no they couldn't help. But instead of screaming this at everyone who asked she just shook her head.
When they lowered the coffin in to the ground, and she had picked up the shovel to lay in the first dirt a gust of wind had come up blowing the dirt back at her. It mixed with the tears on her face and left streaks of mud. She knew it would have made Benjamin laugh and she tried, she tried so hard to smile. But she couldn't.
The wind came stronger that night. As she sat alone in the house all she could think was how much she hated the wind.
She really hated the wind.
( I had nothing this morning. Like the well is dry, nothing. So as I sat at my desk and listened to the wind outside I thought, "I hate the wind." then I decided that would be the start of my story today. It would be about someone who hates the wind. And why.)