Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Calm (emotionally) (09/13/07)
TITLE: Last Drop
By JoAnne Potter
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Mack talked about fixing the leak, but never did. All summer, water in the bucket shifted with circumstances, rising with rain or its own slow constant drip; falling through hot evaporation or a dog’s lazy lapping. The bucket had never filled up, though. Rarely did it remind Hannah that it only sat there because the faucet didn’t work right.
Yesterday, Mack kicked the bucket hard into the fence. It hit against an aluminum post, but the ringing hid behind Mack’s shouts. Hannah never heard it. Almost immediately, their argument’s rolling roar drowned out every other sound. Hannah recalled how big Mack looked then, an Olympian Zeus erupting destruction that flowed from him in steaming waves. Every bird and leaf around him fell silent, providing no echo for his fury’s climax, the front door slamming shut after him for the last time.
Today, even as Hannah replaced the pail beneath the faucet, she still carried the noises of the argument, though everything audible had long sunk away. For her, yesterday’s shouts still pounded and pushed. They do that. Anger and hurt crowd the soul. They jostle for space, casting out reason and mercy, until passion ignites their explosion. They give no quarter.
Hannah, breathless, stuck in unrelenting crescendo, just sat and watched the bucket fill again. For long minutes, one drop came on another until the taut skin of surface tension held the water in a ballooning curve just above the rim. It would hold no more.
Motionless now, the water in the red pail stilled to a clean gleam. The day’s first quiet light glanced off its newly made mirror. Hannah leaned over and looked at her reflection but, instead of her face, saw desperate, bulging years of raw discord, threatening to burst. She waited. No more drops fell. Then, in a moment, she looked away and breathed, clear and free of noise. The rooster crowed again. Nothing would overflow today.
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