THE WIND ©JOHN ROSS
Darkness had long since settled over the city. The night was dark, humid and the sky was full of the threat of a summer storm. Now, however, the wind was so gentle that it made no noise as it ever so softly meandered through the back yard of the large house. The leaves on the tall gum tree near the back fence hardly moved, apart from those on the very tallest branches. Even here one would have had to watch very closely to detect any movement. Two large white towels on the clothesline hung perfectly still; in the darkness they appeared like two dim windows into another dimension. A large spider had strung its web between two pot plants on the back porch and now it carefully investigated a leaf that had fallen and become entangled in the web. The leaf was slowly swinging back and forth in the gentle breeze.
Inside a man sat watching a football replay on the television, a half empty bottle of beer beside him. In the kitchen a women was washing dishes in the sink and listening to classical music on a radio. The man turned towards the kitchen and said, “You coming to watch the telly and don’t forget my coffee?” The women replied that she would be in as soon as she had finished.
Minutes passed and now the wind had become stronger. It made a rustling noise as it pushed its way through the yard. The leaves on the gum tree had started to dance to its tune and those at the very top were carried back and forth as the smaller branches moved under the influence of the breeze. The white towels on the line now swayed in unison like twins performing at some macabre ceremony. The spider had realised that the leaf was not its hoped for evening meal but now crouched at the centre of its web believing that the breeze might bring it an unsuspecting insect. A small lady beetle flies dangerously close to his web.
The man, starting to get annoyed that the woman had not come out of the kitchen, yelled in her direction, “What on earth are you doing there woman and where is that bloody cup of coffee that you promised me ages ago.” He then settled back and opened another bottle of beer. The woman visibly jumped at the sound of his voice and in her haste dropped the bottle of coffee on the floor.
Even stronger now the wind made a loud whistling sound as it forced its way through and around the objects in the back yard. The gum tree had now become a living thing as its branches yielded to the force of the wind and the occasional leaf gave up its grip and swirled away into the darkness. The towels now gyrated wildly, giving up any semblance of unison as they strained against the pegs that held them attached to the line. The spider clung grimly to the centre of its web. He was now in danger of being blown away but still had the strength to try to move over to the lady beetle that had been blown into his web. He knew that this might be his only chance of a meal that night.
Finishing another bottle of beer the man was now constantly yelling at the woman to bring him his cup of coffee. When she did not reply he got up and went to the kitchen door and said, “I want my coffee now and if I have to ask again you will be bloody sorry.” Seeing the woman still trying to clean up the spilt coffee he kicked the dustpan out of her hands and when she cringed back dropped the empty beer bottle on the floor and said, “Clean that up. That’s all you ever do clean, bloody clean. Now get up and get me my coffee.”
Outside the wind was now a brutal force as it howled through the yard threatening to smash and dismantle anything in its path. The gum tree was now bent over by the winds power and its branches thrashed madly as leaves and even small branches were blasted away and sent crashing into the back fence. The towels unable to break free were being torn and shredded by the wind’s fury. The spider still concentrating on getting to the lady beetle in its web did not notice as the leaf in its web was torn away and sent spiralling into the darkness. It did not see the large piece of debris that smashed into its web and carried it away into oblivion.
The man, his anger now in full flow, was cursing at the woman and trying to drag her to her feet. When she resisted he slapped her hard across the face. At first she shrank back trying to protect herself but when he continued to hit her she picked up the empty beer bottle from the floor and hit him with it as hard as she could. The bottle smashed as it crashed into his skull.
Suddenly the wind died away to just a whisper. The gum tree quickly returned to normal; standing tall and majestic in the bright starlight that now washed over the yard. The two white towels, although tattered and torn, had survived all that the wind could throw at them and now shone like two welcoming beacons in the yard. The spider would never see the small lady beetle as it broke free of the last strands of the shattered web and flew away.