Summary: Little Joe remembers another side of his elder brother. Also, a bonus poem about remembering.
Rated: K+ Word count: 1196
Rain and Remembrance
It had been raining for three days, and Little Joe had exhausted his list of indoor things to do. He was bored. He looked over at his father who was working on the accounts. That alone was enough to put his father into a bad mood, so Little Joe decided not to voice his problem. He could hear his father’s solution in his mind, “If you’ve nothing worth doing, Joseph, I’m sure Hop Sing can find something worthwhile for you to accomplish.” At age eleven, Little Joe wanted to do some tiresome chore like polishing the silver even less than he wanted to do any of the things he had been doing repeatedly for the past three days. Little Joe sighed deeply. Hoss had slogged through the rain and mud to tend to his animals, but Pa had forbidden Little Joe to accompany him. Adam had his drawing tools out and was working on designs for an addition to the mill. It would be even more risky to disturb his older brother than it would be to disrupt his pa. Little Joe sighed again. He could sneak outside and worry about the consequences later. Little Joe considered the possibility that he could venture outside without getting caught. Little Joe could not convince himself that the chances were better than 90-10 with the odds against him. Would the probable consequences be worth the taste of freedom? Little Joe looked once more at his father. Ben Cartwright scowled as he attempted to correct an error. No, Little Joe decided that the price would be too high. He sighed again.
“Joseph.” Ben had grown tired of the boy’s sullen looks and sighs.
Little Joe heard his pa’s voice and scrambled to his feet, “I was just going upstairs, Pa. Did ya want something?” Little Joe queried.
Ben shook his head. “No, son.”
Little Joe made his way up the stairs and out of his father’s sight. Going into his room, he walked across to the window and opened it. The damp air rushed in, and Little Joe breathed deeply. Leaning his head against the window frame, he closed his eyes. Breathing in the smell of the rain-soaked air, muddy earth, and wet pines, Little Joe drifted into a memory.
The house had been hot, so Little Joe had opened the door. A minute later, he had been standing on the porch watching the rain. The rain was water. When it was hot, Little Joe liked swimming in the water. Water was cool and seemed to wash him outside and in. It came to his five-year-old mind that he could go swimming in the rain, and he would not even have to leave the yard to do it. Little Joe started to step off the porch but stopped as he remembered that a body did not go swimming in boots and britches. He sat down and pulled off his boots. Then he stood and discarded his shirt and pants. He paused to consider if he should leave his drawers on or go skinny-dipping. That is what Hoss called going swimming with nothing on. Little Joe looked at the dark brown mud and decided skinny-dipping was the best idea. His cotton drawers dropped onto the heap formed by his other clothes. Little Joe stepped off the damp porch into the rain. The mud squished up around his feet, and rivulets of rain ran down his body. He stuck out his tongue and let the fat drops splat, pool, and drip off the tip. Then he giggled and stomped his foot. Mud and water shot out from beneath it. He jumped forward smacking both feet into the muck and slipped landing on his bottom. He laughed and squirmed and then laughed again. . The mud felt funny there. Suddenly he threw his body backward landing with his arms out spread. Breathing deeply, he pulled in the fresh smell of wet pine and then expelled it in a contented sigh. Inspired, he made a mud angel and stood up to admire his handiwork. Thinking it a fine sight, he lay down again and proceeded to make three more before his eldest brother came walking over from the barn.
” Little Joe!”
“Hey, Adam! I’m making angels.” Little Joe smiled up at his brother. Adam towered over him with his hands on his hips and a frown on his face..
“Does Pa know that you’re out in the rain, not to mention naked as a jaybird?”
Little Joe sat up shaking his head. “No.” Suddenly becoming concerned, he pulled his knees to his chest and wrapped his arms around them. Dropping his head to his knees, he mumbled, ” Is he gonna be mad at me?”
To Little Joe it had seemed like a long time before his brother answered, “Not if I’m playing with you.”
Little Joe had looked up in surprise to see his brother smiling. He had watched as Adam had doffed his hat and slicker tossing them onto the porch. Little Joe had starred with his mouth hanging open as Adam had taken off his shirt, pants, and boots. Then, standing there in his wet drawers, Adam had tipped his face to the sky and laughed. Swooping down, he had grabbed Joe and tossed him up into the air.
Little Joe opened his eyes and stared down at the muddy yard. He did not know how long he and Adam had played in the rain and mud that day, but he knew that for every second they had both been totally happy. Even when they had heard their pa call both their full names, the brothers had only giggled. Little Joe did not remember what their father had said to them or how Adam had answered their father, but he remembered that in the end Pa had not punished them. More notably, he remembered knowing that even in his most serious, grown-up brother there was a still a boy.
Little Joe reached out and shut his window. A grin grew and spread over his face as he went downstairs to find out if there was any of that boy left in his bossy brother.
Indeed I do.
I was afraid Adam would kill the both of you.
Now it weren’t really all that bad.
Don’t know why Pa and Adam got so mad.
Yeah, I got all the blame.
Bet folks in Canada heard Pa shout my name.
Well, I didn’t exactly lie.
Sure am glad Pa let that one slip by.
Pa, how could we forget?
It was a week before either one could sit.
Such foolishment! Hop Sing no stay!
Go home to China. Leave today.
Other Stories by this Author
- Five Bits (by DJK)
- Remembering the Barn Elf (by DJK)
- Water Nymph (by DJK)
- Sally Lynn, Swimming, and Sweet Revenge (by DJK)
- Night Ride (by DJK)