Point of View entry for Merit Badge Projects
"Is that Dr. Bedwell?" Margie Carson asked, staring out the kitchen window as she washed the last of the dishes from dinner.
Her husband, Pete, walked to the dining room window and looked out. "Well, I'll be! I think it is. What is he doing out there in the rain?"
Margie put a wrinkled hand to her chest. "He's going to catch himself a death of cold. I- Is he dancing?"
Pete leaned in a bit farther and pulled his glasses to his eyes. "He's spinning in circles, that's for sure."
"Maybe we should call the police? He could be in trouble."
Pete laughed at his wife's worried suggestion. "Come on to the living room, Honey. Let's watch our shows."
"But!" she protested.
He put his hand on her shoulder. "Look, I'm sure everything is fine. This isn't any of our business."
Pete held his hand out to Margie and she gave one last look to her neighbor's display before reaching out and heading to the couch with her husband.
"Yes, he's out there right now, Anja. That's what I've been saying!" Sandra said, her voice shaking despite her best efforts to keep it steady.
She listened to her sister burst out laughing. "That might be worth the hour drive to see!"
"It's not funny!" Sandra cried.
She paced back and forth in front of the storm door. The wind blew the rain sideways as her husband continued to spin in circles, hands raised as though summoning the storm. It responded with a blinding orb of lightning and a loud crack of thunder.
"What was happening before he went out there?" Anja asked, sounding more serious now.
"We were having dinner and I mentioned the trip again. I don't know what happened! He just completely freaked out. He started screaming about how much we owe on the credit cards and his hospital bills from the knee surgery."
Anja sighed on the other end of the line. "You need to go out there and get him. He shouldn't be running around out there like that. Is the cast even off yet?"
"He promised me that trip, Anja! We were supposed to go to Italy three years ago. He swore this would be the year we would go!"
"Sandra, you should go outside and get him. Bring him inside. Make him some coffee..."
Sandra slammed her fist against the storm door. "What are the neighbors going to think? He is embarrassing our entire family!"
"I really think-"
"No! I am done with him!" Sandra slammed the front door and locked the deadbolt. "He can sleep out there for all I care."
Her sister paused, knowing that reasoning was out of the question at this point. Once Sandra had made up her mind about something, the conversation was over. "I think you'll regret it," she muttered.
"I think he's going to regret it when he has nowhere to sleep tonight. I'm going to bed. Forget him," Sandra said, full of anger, and hung up the phone.
I opened my mouth and let the torrential downpour drown my troubles. The lightning spidered across the sky toward me and I reached my hands out to meet it. Laughter spilled from my lips as headlights turned into a driveway just in front of me. Even if it hadn't, I wouldn't have moved.
When I was a kid, my brother and I used to run out in the rain and jump in the puddles. Dad would be angry if he found out, but Mom let us do it anyway while he was at work. When five o'clock rolled around, she would come outside in a frenzy, trying to gather and clean us up before he could get home.
My own kids were upstairs in their separate bedrooms. They didn't have to share like I did as a child. I could see the silhouettes of their heads as they watched me from the windows. I promised I'd never be in one of those marital disputes in front of my children that left them hiding in their room. Now I couldn't count how many times Sandra and I had done it in just the last year.
I spun in circles, letting the rain engulf me, hoping it would swallow me whole and take me away from this place. Why wouldn't my kids join me? Did they think I was crazy? I would have joined my dad if he had ever done something interesting like play in the rain.
Laughter continued to bellow from me as I threw my head back and ran my hands through my wild hair. I realized this was the first time in months I had actually laughed, or maybe even smiled. One word played over and over in my mind in different fonts: FREEDOM.