By Cybele Leydon
I was rocking back and forth on the porch rocking chair looking into the Texas sun. This drought had been going on for as long as I could remember.
“Em!” Mama yelled from inside the house.
“What Mama?” I yelled back.
“Help me with your brothers,” she said as my two-year-old brother Jacob screamed.
Jacob can’t speak very well yet. We brought him to the doctor and the doctor said there wasn’t much we could do except just try to keep teaching him. I sighed and walked into the cramped kitchen where my six-year-old brother Josef was swinging Jacob around and around the kitchen. I stopped Josef and told him to put Jacob down. I picked up the laughing and dizzy Jacob. I grabbed Josef’s hand and pulled them out the door and onto the porch.
“Now sit and don’t move.” I said to them.
“Why should I listen to you? You know I’m—“
“You’re six now,” I said interrupting Josef in a mocking way. “I know, I know, but I’m eleven, and in charge, so sit down.” Josef glared at me then sat down on the chair next to me, while Jacob sat on the floor.
We looked along the dirt road and saw Mrs. Crawnick yelling at Mr. Crawnick about who knows what. Mrs. Johnson was yelling at Toby Thomson for picking an apple off her apple tree (not like she ever picks her own wrinkled apples). Mama says the drought makes everyone cranky—I agree.
The smell of dinner filled the house. When Mama called us for dinner we heard a tap on the window and then saw a raindrop rolling down the glass. Then I heard a noise that has been described to me in books and by my Papa. Tap… tap … tap… tap .. tap.. tap tap tap tap tap tap. Then Mama smiled a smile I hadn’t seen since the day Jacob was born.
“Go put on your bathing suits.” She said still smiling that smile.
I quickly put on my favorite black polka dot bathing suit and helped Jacob into his blue swim shorts. We stood on the porch just like everyone else—Mr. and Mrs. Crawnick, the big Thomas family of twelve, Mrs. Johnson, Don the butcher and his wife—everyone was staring into the rain shower. Jacob stuck his hand out and a raindrop fell onto his little palm.
“Wet.” He said wiping the raindrop on his shorts. We all looked at each other and then at Jacob, who was beaming. Mama scooped him up and went out into the rain and started to dance, spinning him around and around.
“Wet! Wet!” Jacob yelled and laughed. We all started to dance and laugh. After a little while it seemed like the whole neighborhood was dancing. (It was later called the “wet dance”). Everyone was spinning, clapping, jumping and smiling. It was pure bliss. Everyone decided to have dinner outside under a tent sitting at multiple tables and sharing food. Mama brought her stew, Mrs. Johnson brought her apples, Mr. and Mrs. Crawnick brought meatloaf, Don the butcher and his wife brought ribs, and that’s not even the least of it. Food seemed to overflow the tables. Everyone was getting along for what seemed like the first time ever.
“We should do this all the time.” I said to Mama. She smiled that smile again and said, “I agree.”
So now every Saturday our neighborhood does what we call “rain dinner” even when it’s not raining. And when it does rain, oh boy, we dance. Mama smiles her smile a lot more and Jacob can pronounce almost every word just fine. Everyone talks about “the day it rained” like it was just yesterday. I don’t think anyone will ever forget that day—I know I won’t.