Friday’s Story #7
by Keith Wilcox
The kids who were playing in the park were unaware of the approaching rain. They played on, happily, on the swings and in the sand. The older kids were in the big field playing catch. The younger ones were making friends and running through the main play structure. Parents were socializing on park benches keeping one eye on their kids and both ears on their conversations. The clouds approached over the mountains and from the west. The blue sky turned shady and some of the kids removed their hats. Adults took off their sunglasses and looked up. Rolling over the mountains were dark rain clouds preceded by cool wind which nobody saw but everyone felt. The kids, old and young, played on. The parents who came to the park in cars kept talking while the parents who walked or rode their bikes hurriedly packed up.
Nick was one of the kids who came to the park walking with his mom. Their house was 8 blocks away. When the drizzle came Nick was in a big green tube that was suspended between two slide platforms. He was crammed into the tube with three other kids whom he had just met that day. His mother had no idea where he was, and Nick watched through the holes in the tube as she called him and looked behind trees. Nick said, “That’s my mom out there. She’s looking for me!” One of the kids said “you’re going to get in trouble.” Nick had considered that, a little, but didn’t care. He stuck his hand out through the hole and felt rain drops, not many, but some. He felt safe inside the tube. He felt dry. “Niiiiick!” his mother yelled. “Come here now!” she continued. Nick was torn between the safety and comfort of the tube and the increasing frustration of his mother. “Guys, I gotta go.”
Nick came crawling out of the tube. It had been dry inside; but, when he emerged on hands and knees, the exposed platform was already soaked. His knees and hands were wet. Without thinking he stood up, walked two steps to the slide, and went down. His back got soaked. Nobody else had come down the slide since the rain started and Nick was kind enough to temporarily dry it off for whomever else wanted to slide down. He went running, drenched on the back side of his body, to his mother who had seen him coming and was already walking across the grass towards home. Nick noticed that the onset of rain had made it chilly. He caught up to his mom. “I came!” he said. “I noticed” she said.
“We’ve gotta get home quick or there might be thunder, and I don’t want to get stuck in a storm.”
“Should we run?” Nick replied.
“No, It’s just rain now. If it gets worse then we’ll run.” His mother wasn’t mad at him at all.
Nick knew what awaited him at home. In wintertime, when he came in from the snow and cold, he always got a bath and hot chocolate and got to watch TV. He imagined that he would at least get a bath and be able to watch TV.
“Nicholas, do you have your army guys?” His mother had just remembered his army guys. “Check your pockets.” Nick checked his pockets.
“Yup! I’ve got em.” That was a relief. Nick had forgotten them at the food court at the mall, in public bathrooms, at relatives houses – everywhere. Each time, his mom or dad had been willing, while irked, to go back for them. Nick was glad he had them.
The rain was steady, with big drops that splashed off the brim of Nick’s baseball cap. Nick looked up at his mother who’s hair looked like it hadn’t been combed or dried after a shower. Nick glanced at the tree tops and saw the tips blowing gently with each tiny gust. His mother picked up the pace. There house was one block away and around a corner. The rain came down steadily. There was a rumble to the north. The clouds were darker to the north, then a flash. He must have missed the first flash. He waited, then another rumble. It was miles away and already passing to the north of them. There was no danger. They didn’t need to rush. Nevertheless, his mother broke into a trot, still grabbing Nick’s hand. “We’re almost there.” And, they were. They ran past their garbage cans and into the driveway.
“Whoah. We made it.” His mom said, as she panted in the mud-room. “Take off your clothes and put them in the laundry room, Nick. Then get into the bath. I’ll give you a bath.”
Nick bolted down the stairs to the laundry room, took off his clothes, and met his mother at the bathtub.