The smell of rain woke me. My eyes snapped open and I clambered to get out of bed, legs tangling in the sweat-damp sheets. I freed myself with a pounding heart. It’d been weeks since the last storm.
Weeks since I’d seen her.
Hurrying across the screened-in porch where I slept, I threw open the rickety door and stumbled down the steps, coming to a clumsy halt in the bleak, foggy yard. I’d long since stopped sleeping inside the old, weather-worn farmhouse. The porch kept me close to the sky and its gifts. If I missed a storm . . . well, I couldn’t bear it.
As I turned my face up to the glorious grayness, it was only mizzle that wetted my skin, not yet rain. There was still time.
Jogging across the too-tall grass in my bare feet, I reached the ancient tree stump and dropped to my knees, heedless of the damp seeping into my nightshirt and the mud squelching between my toes. Gripping the weathered bark rim, I leaned over and peered in with wide eyes.
I swallowed a sob, bringing trembling knuckles to my mouth. This magic, this beautiful abomination, never failed to rake my sorrow with its claws.
She was already there. I could barely distinguish her, but she was there. Her sweet, young face a blurry thing looking back up at me. Just as she always did when the rain came. Drops from heaven, my grandmother had called them. She’d told me if I stared hard enough, wished hard enough, I’d see that which I longed most for.
And she was right.
I gazed down at the indistinct face of my child. My love lost. My dear, dear heart. How I wanted to reach into the basin of the craggy old stump and touch the watery image, but I dared not for fear of disturbing it. Or, heaven forbid, tainting the voodoo itself.
“Delphine,” I whispered, yearning, aching.
When her faint, fair mouth only opened soundlessly, wavering in the misted water, I turned my face to the sky once more. Pleading. Begging. Praying. Wishing I could reach long fingers up, up, up and drag the storm down from the heavens myself.
But I could never do that.
Instead, I looked back down into the stump, my eyes stinging with unshed tears, and waited. Waited for the rain to come. Waited for the water to show me. Heal me. Destroy me. All over again.
I waited for her.