Stormy Weather

“Momma!”
A hoarse whisper, a nudge, a shake.
“Momma! I think Kitty’s under my bed!”
It’s not quite 6 o’clock yet, the window dark, my brain numb.
“Mommy!”
Louder, more insistent.
“The storm’s banging things around outside,” mumbles Dearest, helpfully. He rolls back over and starts to snore.
“Momma, I heard her! Come see, come see!”
Kitty’s been dead now for a year and a half.
I untangle myself from the rucked-up sheets, product of a restless night thanks to the baby tucked inside my belly, and stumble, three-quarters asleep, to Bonhomme’s room.
Every light from the kitchen to his bed is on.
He leads me, hopping excitedly from foot to foot, as the wind rushes wildly outside.
I sit on the bed, rubbing the sleep away.
Bonhomme lies wriggling on his belly, flashlight aimed under the bed, and peers.
“There’s got to be a cat around here somewhere,” he mutters.
“Honey, Sweetheart – get up off the floor.”
“Maybe behind that box,” he mumbles, twisting.
“Bonhomme.”
“What, Momma?”
“There’s a big storm outside this morning. Can you hear it?”
The thick, insulated doors are rattling, the plate rack is knocking, the neighbour’s dog is barking. The branches are rubbing, creaking, groaning. A ball rolls around the patio, incessantly bumping.
“You hear those strange sounds outside your window?”
“Mmmhmm.”
“Well, there’s a big storm. A really big one. A hurricane.”
“Oh.”
“Sometimes, Love, storms can be so big that they reach really far, and blow all sorts of things around. This one’s come all the way from the ocean.”
Hurricane Sandy, stretching its long, grasping fingers, has reached here, Ottawa, Ontario. Even our inland city, nestled in its valley, as far within the North American North East as it is feasibly possible to be and still be defined as such, isn’t immune.
“Really?”
“Yup. And those are the strange sounds you’re hearing, Love. The wind is really powerful today. Honey, it’s not Kitty. Kitty’s not here. She’s been gone for a long, long time. She’s not hiding under your bed.”
He wraps his impossibly long arms around me, and nestles his face in my neck.
“I know, Honey. I miss her too,” I whisper.
He nods, sniffling.
“Momma?”
“Mmmhmm?”
“I want a cat.”
“I know. Me too.”
“Can we get one? A new cat?”
“Mommy and Daddy have been talking about it. We think maybe, yes. In the spring, after Baby’s arrived.”
“For your birthday?”
“Maybe for your birthday, Love.”
“Maybe for your birthday?” he looks up at me, hopefully, knowing full well that my birthday comes a month sooner than his.
“We can talk about it.”
“Mmmhmm!”
And he’s off, hopping again, twirling about the room before dashing off to the livingroom to whatever pretending awaits him there.
I sit on his bed awhile longer, bemused, my heart a tangled knot, listening to the restless tail end of night.
Later, walking back from the school bus drop-off, the sky winks strange glints of light as the dark clouds race by.
Geese struggle through the sky, barely lifting, hurtling hopelessly out of formation.
A lawn maintenance crew races to attack piles of leaves, their early morning shift scheduled, the weather, not.
My balance lurches, unsteady as I am these days with my belly-centric walk.
The fey, Southern wind, unseasonably warm, wraps itself around everything.
Some storms are not easily diminished by time or distance.
Valleys, soft comforting arms, aren’t always shelter enough.
Some storms reach, touch, tangle us all.

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