IT WAS HARD to be five years old and feel inclined to keep a secret. Even if that secret was just a dream.
The rusty spring on the screen door whinnied as Symphony pushed up her short sleeves and stepped outside. At nine-thirty in the morning, she was already coated in a thin layer of sweat. From the porch, she eyed the dark green car in front of her house. It looked just like the one in her dream. “Or was that one black?” she whispered, squeezing her eyes shut, trying to see it in her mind. “Green,” she decided, inching toward the stairs.
A flock of starlings flapped away, having had their fill of ripe blackberries in the side yard. Startled by the ruckus, Symphony darted back to the house and ducked behind the screen door, as if the thin piece of mesh could protect her from the danger that car could bring.
In a household of six, being the first one up on Saturday morning was a quiet blessing. Symphony had turned the television to her favorite cartoon, making sure the volume was low. She didn’t want to wake anyone up, especially Daddy. The thought made her stomach ache.
Maybe he’s at work. She slipped behind the closed drapes and looked out the front picture window. Daddy’s car was gone, but there was a strange one in its place. The car, itself, wasn’t unusual. It just didn’t belong at her house. The man in her dream had been driving it. Symphony stared through the glass, chewing her fingernails, waiting for the man to appear behind the steering wheel.
Soon after Mama’s slippers scuffed down the hallway, the aroma of percolating coffee called Symphony from her vigil. She rambled into the kitchen. “Mama? Do we have comp’ny?”
Mama’s long, brown hair was pulled back in a ponytail. It swished back and forth, as she worked at making breakfast. “Comp-a-ny,” she corrected, her back to Symphony. “No. Why?”
“Well, whose car is here?”
“Oh,” Mama said, turning around. “It’s ours. You were already in bed when Daddy brought it home last night. You like it?”
Symphony gave Mama’s knees an extra long hug.
“I guess that’s a yes.” She stroked Symphony’s short blonde hair. “We’ll take a ride in it later, okay?”
Knowing Mama was awake seemed to renew Symphony’s courage. And if it was their car, it couldn’t belong to him. Still, she had to see it to know for sure. “Can I go out and play?”
“After breakfast,” Mama said.
But, after breakfast came bath taking and teeth brushing. When Symphony was dressed she asked again, but Mama was firm. “It’s Saturday, honey. You know the rules. Your room has to be cleaned first.”
Daddy came around the corner. “Don’t ask again,” he barked, “or you’ll spend the whole day inside. You hear me? Now go on.” He nudged her shoulder. “Do what your mother said.”
Symphony glanced up at his hard, black eyes. “Yes, sir.” She went straight to her room, closing the door behind her.
Her older sister, Dani, had already made her own bed and was curled up on top of the floral spread reading a book about Dick and Jane. After five years of sharing a bedroom, Symphony knew one thing for sure—Dani never picked up anything on purpose. Sometimes, she would even sleep on top of the covers just to avoid making her bed the next day.
“You have to help too,” Symphony prodded.
Dani didn’t even put her book down. “You have to help too,” she mocked. She turned a page and stretched into a more comfortable position.
“You do! Mama said!”
“You wanna go out,” Dani snipped. “You finish.”
Half an hour later, Mama was checking all the best mess-hiding spots.
Dani batted her eyes at Mama. “I don’t know how our room gets so dirty. Let’s try and keep it clean this time, Symphony.”
Symphony cut her a look but didn’t say a word. An argument would only keep her in the house longer.
“Well, I guess you can go outside now,” Mama said, following Symphony to the living room. “Stay in the yard, okay.”
Now, after everything Symphony had done to get out of the house, she couldn’t seem to make it off the front porch.
She wriggled out from behind the screen door and peeked around the corner. The noisy birds were gone. “It’s our car,” she declared, clenching her fists. “Mama said so.” She jumped down the steps and snapped a dandelion puff off at the base. With closed eyes, she made a wish and blew the seeds into the sweltering air. They floated above the ominous sedan, refusing to land anywhere near it.
She stole a few steps closer, pausing to pick up a tiny set of angel wing shells lying in her path. After tucking the treasure into her pocket, she flitted sideways toward the unsuspecting vehicle. At the trunk, she stopped and held her breath, waiting to see what would happen.
When she was sure lightning wouldn’t strike, she put her finger in her mouth, pulled it out, and wiped a wet stripe onto the shiny new car. Against the dark green paint, it made a rainbow of purple, blue, and copper just seconds before drying in the hot Alabama sun.
She tried the spit trick again. This time her finger wasn’t wet enough. For the moment, she gave up painting rainbows and walked backward to the driver’s door, dragging one heel of her saddle shoe through the crushed shells that made up their driveway.
On tippy-toes, she strained to see inside, but the window was too high. She pushed the button on the door handle. When it didn’t move she squeezed with both thumbs, groaning, “I think I can, I think I can.” This time the door fell open, freeing the expanding heat inside. The blast sucked the sweat right from her pores. She stepped back to breathe and glanced toward the house. Mama and Daddy never allowed her to play in the car. But, this wasn’t really playing. She just needed a better look.
On the inside, the car was different. The man’s seats were light green. These were tan. Relieved, she slid her palm across the slick upholstery. So, it was just a dream.
At least that’s what Daddy always told Dani when she woke up scared. But, Symphony didn’t have nightmares about monsters like Dani did. In fact, she couldn’t remember ever having a bad dream—before last night.
She had opened her eyes to a dark room, her throat aching with a scream that wouldn’t come. The nightlight was burned out so she flipped on the lamp and forced herself to look at her sister’s bed. Dani was right where she was supposed to be. But, in the dream, they had been in a car with a man they didn’t know.
Now, satisfied that this was not the same car, Symphony closed the heavy door and hopped to the road on one foot. The Japanese honeysuckle by the ditch was in full bloom. She plucked a flower from the vine and pulled it apart, licking the honey-sweet nectar from its long yellow pistil.
Miss Ida Stalls drove up, her powder blue convertible raising dust as it stopped in front of Symphony’s driveway. “J’all get a new car, honey?”
Symphony nodded. “Uh-huh. Daddy brought it home last night.”
“It shore is pretty.”
“Thank you, ma’am.”
“Tell your mama I said hey.”
Miss Ida looked like she should be on the cover of a magazine, and she always smelled like flowers. Symphony watched her park at the end of the road and wrestle brown Piggly Wiggly sacks from the car to her front door. Mama said all the single men in Mobile stood in line to buy her dinner. So, why does she have to buy groceries?
When Miss Ida went inside, Symphony walked under the carport and sat on the cool concrete steps where the memory of the dream caught her alone once again.
She tried to remember what the man looked like. He hadn’t turned his head once. The whole time, his nose had pointed like an arrow toward wherever he was taking them.
Using her shirt, she wiped the sweat off her face.
His hair was black. And long for a man. And it looked wet. But Uncle Gray’s is like that too. Mama says he uses too much grease. He wore glasses, and they were shiny—like Granny’s spittoon. And his cheeks went in instead of out, the way Mama’s do when she smokes a cigarette.
In the dream, Dani was sitting by the door, Symphony in the middle next to the stranger. Inside, the car was hot but the sisters shivered as they looked at each other.
We have to get away.
Symphony was staring at the floorboard, trying not to cry, when something shifted below Dani’s feet. Scooting closer, she used the toe of her shoe to lift a flap that covered an opening almost as large as the entire passenger floor. The road rolled beneath it as the driver accelerated once again.
We can fit through.
As the car slowed to a stop at the next intersection, Symphony glanced at the man. He was still looking forward.
You go first. Just slide out. She thought it. Dani heard.
Holding Symphony’s hand, Dani pushed herself down through the hole. After one more look to make sure the man wasn’t watching, Symphony leaned over and Dani pulled her, head first, to safety.
The girls lay still beneath the car, in the center, away from the tires. When the light turned green, the stranger drove on.
At preschool the next Monday, Symphony and her friend Davy watched through the activity room window as mothers drove into the circular driveway to pick up their children.
“We could fit under a car. And not get hurt, either,” Davy assured her, raising his eyebrows and crossing his arms. “A lot of it duddn’t even come close to the road.” He reached for the doorknob. “Wanna try?”
“No.” Symphony shook her head and backed away. “Mama’d be really mad.”
“Not if we don’t get hurt,” Davy told her. “You only get in trouble if you get hurt.”
Davy was the only person she’d told about the dream. Their daddies rode to work together and the families had been friends for as long as Symphony could remember. She knew Davy would believe her and, most important, he wouldn’t tell.
“Maybe it was one o’ your uncles.”
“No it wasn’t!” She stomped her foot and glared at him. When she turned back toward the window, Mama was pulling their new car into the circle. Symphony ran to her cubbyhole and grabbed her newest drawing. She couldn’t wait to see it taped to the refrigerator. “See ya tomorrow.”
This was Symphony’s favorite time of day. With Dani still in school and the little sisters asleep in the back seat, she got to sit up front with Mama. Most days, the two of them talked the whole drive home without interruption.
“Look, Mama,” Symphony said, leaning toward the driver’s side. “I made you a new picture.”
Leesa, the baby, started to fuss.
“Just a minute, sweetie.” As Symphony waited, drawing in hand, Mama reached into the back seat to prop up the baby’s bottle.
Leesa held it with both hands and was quiet.
“See, Mama. I made it just for you.” Symphony pushed the picture toward her mother once more but before Mama could look, they turned a corner, the bottle shifted, and Leesa began to cry again. This time Jeanne, the two-year-old, woke up, wailing.
The bottle was re-propped but Leesa’s contentedness lasted only a moment. Jeanne, grumpy at the shortness of her nap, grabbed the baby’s bottle and flung it into the front seat, drizzling Symphony’s artwork with formula.
Mama won’t like it anyway. She let the drawing drop to the floor and stepped on it as she got out of the car.
Later, while Mama cooked supper, Symphony crept into the kitchen. Aside from the gurgling boil of dinner, the house was quiet. Her two little sisters were taking another nap and Dani was practicing her reading.
“Yes, sugar,” Mama said, glancing over her shoulder.
“Today at Tiny Tots, me and Davy—”
“Davy and I.”
“Um, Davy and I, we laid down under a car, away from the wheels, and it drove over us. And we’re okay. See.” Symphony held both arms over her head and pirouetted.
Mama dropped the spoon into the pot of stew she was stirring. “What?”
“If you get right in the middle and lay real still, it can roll over you and not even touch you.”
“Symphony Ann Weber!” Mama knelt down and took Symphony by the shoulders. “Never go near a car without a grown-up. You know that. Where was Miss Ruby?”
“Um.” Symphony stared at her feet. “In the bathroom . . . I think.”
“You could have been run over. Why would you do that?”
“I’m sorry, Mama.” Symphony braced herself for a spanking, but the tears in Mama’s eyes smacked the truth out of her. “We really didn’t. We just said we wanted to.”
“You made that up?” Mama stiffened and let go. “Why?”
“I don’t know,” Symphony said, turning her face away.
“Go sit on your bed until I call you for supper.”
“But, Mama, I—”
“Go, young lady. And you stay away from cars. Do you hear me?”
Symphony stared in disbelief. Mama had never been this mad at her. She slumped away to her room.
“What’d you do?” Dani asked, grinning.
Symphony shrugged and lay down, pulling her pillow over her face. Davy’s wrong about the getting hurt thing. Maybe that’s just if you’re a boy.
IT WORKED. PERHAPS because no one had told her it wouldn’t.
The stranger drove them past the park as Symphony stared out Dani’s window.
The reminder steadied her as she watched for the red light at the corner. As soon as she saw it, she closed her eyes and focused her thoughts on one word—Stop.
Right in the middle of the dream, the car halted. Everything froze: the mockingbird just above the power line where it always landed, the woman in the crosswalk who looked at them as she passed, the small boy watching through the park fence. Dani wasn’t even trembling anymore.
Symphony sat still, waiting. In this part, the man always coughed. His silence told her it was safe to move. She turned, rose to her knees, and tried to lean over in front of him, holding tightly to the steering wheel. If I could just see his face . . .
Seeing his face was all Symphony could think of since she and her family returned from their summer vacation at Granny’s. As usual, the four hour trip to Granny’s side of Alabama had felt more like a day. But, with Symphony’s mind full of what ifs and how tos, the ride home went quickly.
While in preschool, the dream had bothered her three times. In first grade, it showed up as soon as she stopped worrying that it would. This year, in second grade, the nightmare had established more of a pattern, waking her at least once a month. But it didn’t scare her the way it had at first. Not since she discovered she wasn’t the only one whose dreams played over and over again. When her grandpa was alive, he had the same problem. Now, Uncle Gray did too.
That summer morning, her youngest uncle, Austin, had sent her in search of gold. Just before noon, after digging for hours in the cool dirt floor of Granny’s barn, Symphony wandered over and handed him the flaky golden nuggets she had found.
“They’re not gold,” Austin said, handing them back. “Them’re just rocks.”
Symphony held them out in a stream of sunlight. “Are you sure? They’re really shiny.”
“Yep. What you got there’s just fool’s gold.”
“Well, I’m gonna keep ‘em anyways, just in case.” She shoved them into her pocket.
“Suit yourself,” Austin said.
For the first time, Symphony noticed the heap of wood and chicken wire piled next to him. “Whacha makin’?”
“A cage,” he said, bending a nail with his hammer to hold the wire in place.
“What kinda cage?”
“Rabbit. I’ve gotta trap it ‘fore it ruins the rest of the garden. You should see what it’s doin’ to the beans and carrots.”
Symphony imagined a soft white bunny with a pink nose. “If you catch one, can I hold it?”
Austin shook his head. “Not a wild rabbit. That thing‘d scratch you up. Then it’d bite ya. Besides, we’ll prob’ly feed it for a few weeks, then skin it and cook it.” He looked up at Symphony and grinned. “If you want, I’ll save you the fur.”
She crossed her arms to match her sudden change of mood. “People don’t eat rabbits!”
“Sure they do,” Austin said with a smirk.
“They do not.” She hesitated, wondering if he was right. Why would anyone eat a bunny? There was nothing cuddly about chickens or fish. Cows were too big and pigs smelled bad. But bunnies . . . She put her hands on her hips. “I’m gonna go ask Granny!”
“Go ahead,” he called after her as she marched up the back steps. “She’ll tell you. They taste just like chicken. You’ve prob’ly eaten rabbit before and just didn’t know it.”
Symphony let the screen door slam behind her and headed down the hallway, Austin’s laughter nipping at her heels. As she neared the kitchen, the sound of voices stopped her and held her in the hall.
Granny cleared her throat. “I just don’t know why you have to—”
“I’ll tell you why,” Uncle Gray said. “‘Cause, when I pass out, I don’t have the nightmares.”
Nightmares? Symphony leaned against the wall, waiting for the next word.
“I know you didn’t ask for this gift, Graydon.” Granny’s voice was soft and sad, as if she were making a wish for something she knew she couldn’t have. “Your papa said his started when he was only three or four. He fought it too—till he was nearly grown. But then something happened. One night, he and a few of his friends—I won’t tell you who—got their teenaged hands on a jug o’ whiskey and snuck off down to the river to drink it. Two of ‘em got to arguing and kept it up till one of ‘em said something real mean. Your papa told me he’d seen it all in a dream. He knew what the next words would be and that they would make the first boy mad enough to draw a knife. So, he did the only thing he could. He interrupted before those words could come.”
“I need to get some sleep, Mama,” Gray said.
A chair scraped the floor. Symphony tiptoed back three steps.
“Hang on,” Granny said. “You need to hear the rest of this. It’ll just take a minute.”
The chair slid again. Symphony tiptoed closer.
“Your papa welcomed the dreams after that. He even practiced talkin’ to himself while he was dreaming, learned to slow ‘em down so he wouldn’t miss anything important. Did I ever tell you? He knew I was pregnant with you before I did.”
“Yeah. That one must have been more like a nightmare,” Gray said.
“No it wasn’t.”
For a moment, neither of them said a word. Then Granny continued. “Look, son. I know you’re not happy about it, but there must be a reason this is happening. Promise me you’ll at least try to slow ‘em down like your papa did. Maybe once you see what the dream is telling you, it’ll give you a rest. Want lunch before you go to work?”
“I’m not hungry,” he said. “I think I’ll take a nap.”
Symphony hid in the bathroom as Gray walked down the other end of the hall. She washed her hands, splashed cold water on her face, and gazed at herself in the mirror. Uncle Gray has dreams like me.
She was starving by the time Granny called her to the kitchen for lunch. Right in the center of the table, piled high enough to topple, was a platter of fried chicken. Carefully, Symphony turned it, searching for a drumstick.
Uncle Austin walked in, grabbed the top piece and took a bite. “Oh, Mama,” he said, flopping into a chair, “you outdid yourself this time.” He held the unfamiliar-looking piece out to Symphony. “Try it,” he whispered, grinning. “I’m tellin’ ya, it tastes just like chicken.” He put it on his plate and made bunny ears with his hands, all the while nodding at the mound of poultry.
“I’m not really that hungry, Granny,” Symphony said. “Could I just have a tomato sandwich?”
From that day forward, Symphony waited for the dream, hoping to slow it down as Papa had done with his. She wanted to see everything: the car, the man, where they were. With no one to tell her how, she experimented. No matter what she tried, she could only change her thoughts in the dream, not what happened.
One night, while in the midst of it, she felt the heat of the stranger next to her. Wanting to escape for a moment, she closed her eyes. She imagined riding her bicycle, the handlebar streamers fluttering, the cool breeze on her face. Then, she took her feet off the pedals and felt the bike coast, the speed drop, the wind ease. When she opened her eyes again, everything in the dream was in slow motion.
Since she believed the man’s face was the first detail she needed to see, she stood, turned around, and pressed her back against the dashboard, squeezing as close to him as she could. She got a glimpse, but within seconds, his cold, dark eyes glared back, erasing his features from her mind. A shiver of terror ended the dream well before she and Dani made their escape.
Tonight, with the dream paused, she tried another angle, but between the man’s rigid form and the steering wheel, she couldn’t get close enough. I’ll have to get out of the car. She stretched over Dani to open the door. Just as she did, a loud noise jolted her awake. There it was again. What is that? The phone was ringing. In the middle of the night? She reached over and turned the lamp switch but the light didn’t come on.
There were footsteps in the hallway, then a crash and “Ow!”
“Mama?” Symphony called out, just as lightning flashed.
It lit the house long enough for Mama to find the phone. “Hello,” she said. “No. The power must have gone out after I went to bed. I think I just broke my toe. Are you still in Charlotte? Okay. Well, do you know where the transistor radio is? No. You took it last time you went fishing. I guess we’ll just have to do without it, then. A flood warning? What about the hurricane? But you have the car. How am I gonna—Shoot. I lost him.” She hung up the phone. “Danielle, Symphony. Get up and get dressed.”
“No arguing,” Mama said. “Just hurry.”
Symphony watched through the bedroom door as a strobe of lightning helped Mama find her way to the kitchen. Minutes later, she was back, carrying glorious candlelight across the living room. She made her way to the phone and dialed.
“Hello. This is Maisy Weber. 1451 Dogwood. Is the hurricane supposed to hit Mobile?” She paused. “But I don’t have a car right now. My husband’s out of town. And I have four daughters. Is there anyone who can—Okay. I’ll hold on.” In Mama’s silence, the winds grew louder, first whispering against the house, then smacking the windows with small branches and debris. “Thank goodness,” Mama sighed with relief. “How long? Okay. We’ll be ready.”
She hung up the phone. “Girls!”
“What’s wrong, Mama?” Symphony asked.
“Everything’ll be fine,” Mama said, sounding as if she were trying to convince herself. “Are you two dressed yet?”
“There’s a her-cane?” Symphony asked.
“Yes,” Mama said. She lit another candle on their bedside table. “Pull your little suitcases out from under the bed. Pack three changes of clothes. Don’t forget panties and socks.”
“Where are we going, Mama?” Dani asked, her short, brown hair a mass of tangled curls.
“To your school for now,” she replied. “Stay away from that candle,” she added, hurrying out of the room.
“What about Daddy?” Dani called after her.
Mama stopped and turned around. “He’s still in North Carolina, far away from the hurricane.”
Symphony pulled both suitcases out from under the beds.
“But how will he find us when he gets here?” Dani asked, yanking hers away from Symphony.
“You hurt my finger,” Symphony said, spinning toward Dani.
“Girls, please! Just do what I asked you to do. Without fighting. I have to pack for your sisters. Someone’s coming to drive us to the school. We have to be ready.” Muttering, Mama limped away.
Within minutes, there was a knock on the door. Mama rushed to open it, carrying Jeanne, half-dressed, on her hip.
A man and woman held fast to the porch columns, their yellow raincoats slick and shiny in the car headlights. Mama glanced at their volunteer badges. “I’m so glad you’re here.” At the wind’s insistence, the stepped inside.
“Daniele, Symphony,” Mama yelled. “Blow out your candle and c’mon.” As the girls came out of their bedroom, Mama pulled a shirt over Jeanne’s head. “Just let me get the baby and we can go.”
“Wait,” the man said.
Mama turned back toward him.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” He rubbed his forehead and looked away. “We can only take two this trip.”
“What?” Mama gaped at him.
“There’s two other families in the car,” he said. “We don’t have room for all five of you.”
“But . . .” Mama’s chest seemed to cave in. “I told the operator how many and . . . That’s okay,” she said. “We’ll wait for the next car.”
“What if you all won’t fit in the next car?” the woman asked. “Then what?”
Mama couldn’t speak. Jeanne squirmed to get down. Leesa screamed from her crib. The wind threatened to blow them all over. The man reached around Mama and closed the door.
“Are these the oldest two?” the woman asked.
“Let them go with us. I give you my word, I’ll stay with them until you get to the school. It’s just for a few minutes anyway.” She handed Mama a piece of paper with two names scrawled on it. “Just ask for us when you get there. The other car should be here shortly.”
“Girls.” Mama squatted to Symphony’s eye level. “These people are with the Red Cross. They’ll take you to the school where there’s a shelter. Your sisters are gonna have to ride with me in the next car. Okay.”
“No, Mama,” Symphony begged. “I wanna wait with you.”
“You can’t, sweetie,” Mama told her. “Go on. I’ll be right behind you.”
Each volunteer led one of the sisters down the stream of headlights toward the car. Symphony stopped resisting after the first three steps until a bolt of lightning turned the sky silver, revealing the vehicle her sister was stepping into. It’s his car. “Dani!” she screamed. “No!” But a gust caught her warning and fed it to the storm. Dani disappeared into the front seat.
The woman tugged at Symphony’s arm. “C’mon, honey,” she shouted over the roaring wind. “We have to hurry.”
But Symphony stiffened, refusing to take another step. She jerked, trying to pull her hand from the woman’s grasp, but in an instant, another gust slapped them both toward the car.
Within moments, Symphony was inside. She glanced at the four grownups crammed into the back seat, counted three sleeping children in their laps, and scooted closer to Dani as the woman squeezed in next to her and slammed the door. Mama and the little sisters would never have fit.
The driver pulled the car away from the house. “My name’s Bob,” he said with a smile in his voice. “And this is my wife Norma.”
“I’m Daniele,” Dani said. “And this is Symphony.” She squeezed Symphony’s hand. “She never gets scared.”
But tonight, Symphony was terrified. The hood of the driver’s raincoat was covering the side of his face. All she knew for sure was that he was someone she didn’t know driving a car she didn’t feel safe in. She stared straight ahead at the windshield wipers as they batted back and forth at raindrops and debris. What if Mama doesn’t come? It wouldn’t be the first time Mama hadn’t been able to keep a promise. What if it’s him?
As the storm threw a tantrum outside and the adults in the car softly spoke back and forth, Symphony squeezed Dani’s hand and closed her eyes, hoping for sleep. Lately, she’d been able to see bits and pieces of her dreams in real life. Maybe if she had a dream about Mama doing something tomorrow, she’d know things were going to be okay.
She awoke in the school lunchroom with Miss Ida Stalls and Dani standing over her. “You all right, sweetheart?” Miss Ida asked. “I brought you some peanuts and a bottle of Co-co-ler. Why don’t you sit up a take a little drink, okay?”
“Where’s Mama?” Symphony asked, looking around.
Dani sat down on the cot where Symphony had been sleeping. “Miss Ida can tell you.”
“They’re fine, honey,” Miss Ida said. “They couldn’t get over the bridge, that’s all. So they had to go to the high school. But don’t you worry. I’ll stay right here with you till we get to go home, okay.” She looked at both girls and smiled.
“See that policeman over there?” The officer looked in their direction and Ida winked. “He was nice enough to radio someone at the high school to make sure your mama got there okay. Plus, I had him tell her I was here with the two o’ you so she didn’t worry so much.”
The lunchroom was crowded with evacuees. Symphony glanced around searching for a window. She couldn’t tell if it was night or day. And what about the her-cane? If the wind was still blowing hard, she couldn’t hear it over all the people.
“Miss Ida,” she asked. “Why do they call it a her-cane and not a him-cane?”
“I don’t know, sweetie. They name ‘em after women too. Someone told me once that it’s ‘cause hurricanes are unpredictable, and so are women. Funny. I can almost always tell what a woman’ll do in a given situation. But men. Who knows?” She looked up and waved at a red-haired man. “Well look who’s comin’,” she said.
“Who?” Symphony asked.
“It’s Bob,” Dani said. “The man who brought us here last night.”
Bob smiled when he saw Symphony sitting up. “Hey, honey,” he said, tousling her short blonde hair. “Norma and I were worried about you. We felt real bad about having to leave your Mama and sisters behind. But you’re all safe anyway, even if you aren’t together. You think you’ll ever be able to forgive ol’ Bob?”
Symphony studied him in his yellow raincoat.
The hood was down, showing his orange-red hair. On his right cheek
was a mole the size of a horsefly. It’s not him. She let out
a breath and gave him her biggest smile.
© copyright Cynthia Rogan 2013