Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2295481-Waiting-On-The-Storm
Rated: E · Short Story · Family · #2295481
An old rat tries waiting out a hurricane. His daughter has different ideas.

Waiting On The Storm

         Sometimes there just wasn't any understanding between people. Most folks didn't make any attempt to try. Jenks knew this far better than anyone. He popped the cap off a bottle of beer and sat in his ancient lawn chair with the torn and faded plastic straps that somehow still held his thin frame. His naked tail wrapped around the tubed legs as he stared off into the dark distance. "I fear no darkness," he grumbled to himself. His round ears went flat as he took a long draw from the bottle.

         It seemed just impossible to him. He lived in that beach house all of his life. He remembered searching for sea shells along the shore and making little necklaces to sell to tourists. As he stared towards the ancient highway that spilled out into the near white sand, he saw a younger version of himself, not quite an adult but not quite a pup, talking to that skunk lady. Her bosom blossoming out of her dress as she leaned forward to look at the 'precious' jewelry in his paw held down so he could get a better look.

         "Heh, got an eyeful then," he smirked, "and nearly a black eye from her striped boyfriend."

         His mind returned to the beach front where in the winter he learned to drive on a beach buggy when he was no older than twelve. Towards the waters where he proposed so long ago to Suzie, that beautiful rat who smelled so nice through the years. "That little lady ensured that I would always remember her," he said, a hitch encroaching on his voice. His bald tail twitched in pain at the memory as his old ears folded down.

         "It's just a little water," he said with a smile on his muzzle. The darkness was coming. According to the weatherman, "Hurricane Henry" would be there in six hours. The wind had already picked up, the occasional gust blustering against the sides of the house. The white washed flat boards and windows could take it. Heck, Jenks didn't even bother boarding them up this time.

         "I don't know if you're as strong as they claim," he said, "Class five and all of that. I think you're just a bunch of water and wind."

         His phone rang for a while, then fell silent. Jenks sat in his chair and ignored it while it did, sipping his beer, letting his life slowly flash before his eyes. "No one understands," he growled, a snarl forming on his muzzle, "and no one gives a damn. You hear that?! I hope you are just as strong as they claim! I hope you come and blow me and this whole damn house away, you big ugly blow hard. Come on, I can take it!"

         His mind thought of the Styrofoam cooler he kept in his truck. Should have filled it with beer and brought it out here. He thought, staring into the distance. Too late now, nothing will be open.

         "Dad, what the hell are you doing?"

         His daughter Laura was a vision of white fur against the backdrop of green grass and Suzie's tree. A near spitting image of her mother, right down to the birthmark in her ear, standing where she stood almost a decade ago next to the tree that Suzie had planted the year the cancer got her. It grew large, with fat leaves hanging over the old stone walk way. They danced in the wind now with the occasional gust that spoke of the promised violence that was hurricane Henry.
"I ain't letting a bunch of wind and water scare me out of my home," he grumbled.

         "But this is more than wind, dad. It's a class five!"

         "You can go," he said. "I'd prefer you to go. Go to Chase's. Take that no account husband of yours with you, and all those pups you never brought around for me to see."

         She rolled her eyes, her ears flattening against her skull. "I can't take Jason, he's on deployment. The pups are in the truck dad. Come on! We ain't got time for this."

         He smiled, his bald tail tip twitching a moment. "I got all the time in the world," he smirked. "Pull up a seat and join me. Shame all those little pups growing up alone and all that, but I'd love to have you."

         "Dad, you got to get off your stubborn ass and come on," she said. "We don't have time."

         He stood from his seat. The world swayed a moment, shifting one way then the other. Up righting himself, his tail lashed to gain balance. "You never do!" He snapped. "When Suzie had cancer, you didn't have time to come see us but once. After the funeral, you didn't have time to come see me at all. Barely had time to call. My daughter so damn busy, that she couldn't even. Couldn't..." he threw the bottle against the house. It exploded, the sound getting lost in a wind gust.
"I'm sorry," she said, shouting over the wind. "I should have come sooner, but I'm here now. You know what it's like to have pups. They get busy, they have school, projects, homework, ball games. You have work and church and PTA meetings and neighborhood watch, and just about everything rolls into each other. Before you know it, a year goes by and,"

         "Ha," Jenks laughed. "Year. That tree behind you was a tiny sprout when you last visited. Your mom planted it you know. 'Give you something to give shade and comfort when I can't' she said.'"

         "Look dad, I'm sorry. But dying isn't going to prove anything."

         "You just don't get it. None of you ever did. I grew up on this beach. I was born in this damn house. Mostly because my own dad was too stoned to take mom to the hospital, heh. I sold necklaces to tourists; I was married here. Hell, I lived here all on my own my whole damn life."

         Laura, walked over to him, and embraced him. "Please," she whispered to him, burying her muzzle in his ear. "Please don't die here."

         "I can't..." he huffed, burying his muzzle into her fur. The scent of coconut and hazel, her shampoo, mingled with her natural musk. It comforted him, reminding him of Suzie. Before she got so sick. "I can't abandon her," he whimpered. "You weren't here. None of you were when."

         "When what," she asked.

         "When I buried Suzie's ashes right there. At her tree. If I leave now, I'll be leaving her. She'll have no one."
Laura shoved him back at arm's length and slapped him across the muzzle once. Good and hard she slapped him. The heat came first before the sting. "Mom is dead," she snarled. "And I'm alive. Your grand pups are alive. Don't you dare die here when we need you."

         He didn't say anything for a minute, sniffling, rubbing his muzzle where she slapped him. "I'm not certain," he whispered, "that anyone needs an old fart like me."

         "Dad," she said, "I need you." Tears filled her eyes. "Please, I need you. Please don't do this."

         A set of ears peaked around the corner. "You're coming, right grandpa? We need you."

         He looked at his daughter, a smile forming on his muzzle. "You manipulative son of a gun." He smirked. "You're an old salesman just like your pops."

         Laura smiled, wrapping her tail around him. "Is that a yes?"

         He looked at her and nodded. Then looking at the tree, he said "Take care of the place Suzie till I get back."

© Copyright 2023 Louis Williams (lu-man at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
Writing.Com, its affiliates and syndicates have been granted non-exclusive rights to display this work.
Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/view_item/item_id/2295481-Waiting-On-The-Storm