Haying Season 

The system to the north was taunting me, offering me the better part of a day to fret over its arrival.

Page 2 of 10

I rapped on Ella’s door with my knuckles.

"What?" she said.

I cracked open the door. She was lying in bed, staring up at the ceiling. Her small head poked out from the covers, like a new bud.

"Rain’s coming, Ella."

"Oh," she said, not moving.

"The hay. We have to get it in." I grabbed the nearest corner of her quilt in my hand and tugged at it.

"I can’t close my lips together," she said.

"It’s going to rain, Ella. Get dressed."

"Last night my braces made my lower teeth stick out. I can’t close my lips. See?" Ella forced her lips to join together over the sharp metal tracks.

"Does it hurt?" I asked. She looked uncomfortable, like a fish, gasping.

"No. But I feel stupid."

"You don’t look stupid. No one will know."

"Till they see the drool," she said. "Can you go now?"

"Please get dressed Ella."

"I can’t."

"Why?"

"Not with you standing there."

I fixed a plate of toast and a glass of orange juice and set them on the kitchen table in Ella’s place. When she finally came downstairs she had makeup on. Cover-up, black eyeliner and mascara.

"What’s with all the makeup?"

Ella shrugged and sat down at the table. She picked out a piece of toast. "It doesn’t look like rain to me," she said, gazing out the window.

"Mackerel skies and mares’ tails make tall ships take in their sails."

"Oh mum just turn on the Weather Network will you?" She left the table and then tipped the toaster upside down. A mottled shower of crumbs poured over the counter.

"Don’t do that anymore, okay?"

"But they like it." Ella swept the crumbs into the palm of her hand.

"The crows are noisy. Rats of the sky. They freak me out."

"Don’t say that! I like the crows."

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