Year 9: John stared out past the window, marveling at how the rain pelted the side of the house in an almost rhythm. The dirt driveway was one large puddle now. His mom was two hours late.

John had noticed the hour the moment it past, but his dad had just begun pacing. His footsteps were hard and deliberate, keeping their own rhythm on the linoleum floor–clap, clap, scrape, clap, clap, scrape. The heavy lines around his eyes were more deliberate.

The news had said the storm would hit tomorrow. His mom had planned for it to hit tomorrow. Even John’s school had it scheduled as a day off already. But the weather was an unpredictable thing and John knew at the first clap of thunder that it would come early. There was no light mist as warning of its early arrival. Only the sudden rush of water that hadn’t let up since this afternoon.

John measured it in buckets–as in the amount of buckets he’s had to dump from the leak in the roof over the kitchen. He counted five already. That’s four more than he’s ever dumped in a single day. And it was far from over yet.

Dan went to the front door and looked out again. Huddled under the short awning was the stray dog John loved as his own. Dan usually kicked it if it got too close to the front door. He stared at it as if he was trying to remember what to do with it, then held the door open wide, grabbed it by the scruff on its neck, and pulled it in.

John felt his mouth fall open. His dad left the room and returned with a towel. He dried the dog until it was fluffy.

“Thanks,” John mumbled and then sat on the ground so the dog would know what to do.

Dan’s eyes burned looking at his son. His feet shuffled uncomfortably before he picked up his pacing again.

The soft, glow of headlights illuminated the dark interior. Finally, thought John. His dad sighed a breath of relief. There was a knock on the door.

It wasn’t his mom.

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