Blowing in the Wind
At the same time, everyone, even those wearing earplugs, woke up to the sound of wind. Lying in bed, people felt the breeze blowing through their hair, noticed lamps toppling over, and cats scurrying to safety. The people with a healthy curiosity stepped outside and said to no one in particular, Fucking incredible! The creative humans lifted their arms, certain they’d take off in flight, while the more practical folks went inside to grab an umbrella so they could run with the wind, and they ran and ran and ran, until they lifted from the ground and whirled through the sky, unsure if they’d ever return, and unsure if they even cared, while the curious folks repeated Fucking incredible when they saw the humans flying with their umbrellas. Unable to sleep, people made their coffee at 3 am, went outside to stack lawn chairs, made sure cars weren’t parked beneath trees, and those living in the desert closed their windows, opened a beer, shook their heads, and mumbled, Helluva haboob. Those fortunate enough to live on a beach heard the waves crashing long before they realized the wind was hurling outside their windows, and the romantic beach dwellers left their beds, sleepwalking until they reached the shore and the water rushed over their bodies making them alert once again. They jumped and squealed, then pushed their lovers to the sand and made incredible love, while the people who lived in the woods fretted each time a branch swatted the roof or came close to breaking a window, and they poured themselves a decent-sized glass of whiskey, wondering about insurance policies, and if there’d be rain with this wind, then remembered to let the cats inside, and just as they were going to turn on the radio to listen to the news, the power was out, and their hands patted the counter until they found the whiskey bottle, and they took the bottle outside to sit on the porch because, hell, nothing they could do to stop the trees from falling. The dogs loyally remained by their side. When morning arrived, people discovered baby changing tables and old Pink Floyd albums in their lawns, yet, the houses nearby looked intact. The wind continued to howl, and some people decided this was the perfect day to hang out the laundry to dry, but then discovered the strength of the wind, and watched their bras and boxers soar into the sky, causing birds to dart willy nilly in hopes of avoiding becoming entangled in a tee shirt. Loyal dog walkers left their homes in the howling wind and greeted everyone with the same lame words: What a wind. When will it end? No one knew when the wind would cease, but the surfers wasted no time hitting the waves, and TV crews filmed the madness, and farmers sighed as their chicken coops crumbled and caged birds stepped outside for the first time ever, then the wind lifted the chickens into the sky, and they joined the people hanging onto umbrellas, the random laundry swirling about here and there, and the birds flying willy nilly. The beach dwellers panicked when the dunes eroded, their homes teetering and tattering, and people quit asking the same mundane question about when the wind would end, and started shouting more pressing questions: How do you know if there’s a heaven? Is there really a devil? Why do some people have so much money while others have none? Why do babies die? Why can’t people feel safe at night? Why do people lie? Are the pesticides killing the bees? And people were doing their best to stand upright while walking outside, then doing their best to crouch to the ground to avoid the flying debris, and their ability to hear weakened by the day, there was a continuous whirling noise in their heads that they couldn’t escape, and their appetites diminished, and they lost interest in refilling their glasses of whiskey, until an old song started playing in everyone’s head, and the questions ceased while everyone sang The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind, and the lyrics reverberated across soybean fields, great lakes, oceans, mountains, and empty hallways, over and over, while day turned to night and day again, and wind surfers stopped wondering where’d they finally end up, and they sang another round while blowin’ in the wind.
Diane Payne is the author of Burning Tulips and Freedom’s Just Another Word. She has been published in hundreds of literary journals, and the most recent include: Four Ties Literary Review, Cleaver, Whirlwind, Story South, No Extra Words, and forthcoming in Storm Cellar, Tishman Review, Shine Journal and Dialogual. Diane is the MFA Director at University of Arkansas-Monticello.