“…remember somewhere the sun is shining…” Doris jabbed viciously at the power button. “And the best thing to do,” she grated, “is turn you off!”
Moving to the kitchen window she continued talking to herself. “I have just had enough of the sun shining. It never stops. It gets hotter and hotter, drier and drier. My plants are dying and there is nothing I can do about them. This drought has just gone on far too long. Lord,” she looked up imploringly, “can’t You do something?”
Tears welled in her eyes. She looked at the dishes piled beside the sink. Water was strictly rationed. Dishes were washed only in the evening, using a half-bucket of soapy water and another half-bucket of clear water for rinsing. Before that, they were carefully wiped with newspaper and stacked. Nothing was wasted. The dishwashing water was hoarded to be used for the laundry once a week.
On alternate evenings the family of four shared a few inches of water in the bath for ablutions. Afterwards the few plants that Doris had potted were stood in the water. In the morning they were removed and the remaining water used to wash the kitchen and bathroom floors.
Looking out at the branches being whipped in the parched garden, Doris thought of how brazen the sky looked. Over to the northeast it was quite pink – PINK? Dust! With that realization, Doris grabbed her laundry basket and ran. The washing should be fairly dry with the wind, but she had to get it inside before the dust came. And it was coming fast! Fortunately there were few items and Doris closed the door minutes before the house was enveloped in red dust.
Shaking out and folding the clothing, Doris noticed that it was time for the mid-morning newscast. She flicked the radio switch on.
“…This is a weather alert. Travelers between Furtherdown and Hereweare are required to re-schedule or cancel their journeys. Storms up country have caused flash flooding; a bridge has been damaged ten kilometers south of Hereweare. Outside of Inbetween a collision has occurred, causing a seven-car pile-up. Rescue workers are at the scene but efforts to clear the site are hampered by weather conditions.
“North of Hereweare, in the vicinity of the Gobelow Forests, electrical storms and lightning have ignited farmlands. The road is closed. The blaze is on both sides of the road and is threatening the forests. Secure Haven is being evacuated and efforts are being made to reach isolated farms by helicopter to evacuate the farmers.
“We are requesting all community volunteers and residents of Furtherdown, Hereweare and Upalong to prepare to receive evacuees and stranded travelers. We will update this weather alert throughout the day.”
Doris realized she was still holding a shirt in one hand and coat hanger in the other. She thought of her sister Louse, living on the other side of Hereweare, expecting a rare visit from her daughter and family. They were coming from the south and their route would bring them through Furtherdown. Doris threw the shirt back into the laundry basket and went to the telephone.
“Louise,” she interrupted her sister’s greeting. “Did you hear the weather alert? What time are you expecting the family?”
“Oh, Doris!” Louise’ voice was tearful, “Daphne phoned me last evening to say that due to an emergency at work, Bruce’s leave was deferred, and they won’t be able to visit this school holiday. I was so very disappointed. I spent half the night weeping and praying, asking God why. And now? Now I am weeping with relief that they are not on that road – not in that danger. Now I am thankful that I have beds made up and extra provisions in case they are needed for evacuees. I think the wind is easing a bit – it looks less thick outside. Perhaps things are on the improve.”
After a few more words Doris replaced the receiver. Relief made her knees weak. She noticed that the air outside did seem clearer. She would phone her husband and ask him to pick up some extra bread and milk, and if he could find one, a large container of filtered water. She, too, would prepare for evacuees. With storms to north and south, at least in Hereweare they could offer shelter, hope and refuge. “God, You are good,” she thought. “Please help me to remember that.”
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