Most days, Bryer street was full of activity. Children were playing in their yards, throwing their Frisbee or yelling “Ollie All in Free” as they chased one another from one hiding place to the next. Men pulled their cars out into the driveway and crawled under the hoods while the women hung laundry on clotheslines out back.
There were fourteen families along Bryer street. Five of their odd numbered homes stood solemnly across from their even numbered counterparts, while the remaining four filled out the cul-de-sac at the end. Each was built from the exact design as the other, with the only difference being the cosmetic differences that each owner had applied over the years. Where some had simply repainted their wood siding, others had replaced it entirely.
Some families proudly displayed the flag of their favorite home team on the front of the home. At the very back of the cul-de-sac, one home had gone so far as to design the entire color scheme of their structure to that of their favorite team! It was the only house of its kind, dark red with gold paint on the trim, and each year they placed life-sized plastic statues of the team’s players along each side of the driveway.
Everyone knew the names of their neighbors in the Bryer Street community. They had lived together for no less than a decade and congregated regularly at barbecues, block parties, or other themed events. Each year, the men met at a different house to watch the Superbowl, while the women retreated poolside and shared the latest gossip.
The families were tight knit and on most days they were full of activity. But then, today wasn’t like most days. Today, every family was nestled comfortably in their homes, watching television, reading books, or doing whatever it was that they do whenever the weather turned foul. Outside, the rain drummed on the hoods of their cars. It filled their gutters to capacity and the storm drains struggled to swallow the deluge.
The hours stretched into an endless eternity, or so it seemed to the pale faces peering out from the windows of their homes, and it felt like the day couldn’t get any worse. They watched helplessly as the waters flooded their gardens. The soil had long since become saturated and the sprouts were slowly drowning beneath the weight of the uncaring waters. Phones rang as they called one another. Some to comment on the severity of the storm, others just to hear the sound of their friend’s voice.
Nobody thought that it would last this long. Not a one of them thought it could get much worse.
It happened as the evening approached. The rains had lessened enough so as to allow the waters to seep into sewers which had long since filled beyond their capacity. Some of the families were either finishing dinner, while others were drying the evening dishes or getting ready for bed. The only constant was that every family had finally accepted the storm for what it was. You might even say that they had grown complacent with it.
At the house nearest the beginning of the street, Sammy Dryden was resting in his rocking chair, enjoying the fresh scent of rain. A retired widower, Sammy was the oldest of Bryer Street’s inhabitants. As he was wont to do, he spent his days on the front porch whittling various creatures to life from whatever material he could get his hands on. Tonight, he was patiently pulling the graceful form of a ballerina from a small piece of Basswood he had found while walking along the sidewalk in front of the Duncon’s residence.
His hands shook as he worked, but he pressed on with the patience of a predator carefully gauging its prey. And, as the ballerina continued to appear from the labors of his skilled touch, he reflected upon a time when he was much more agile.
It was a pose common to his neighbors, all of whom spoke fondly of the Old Man Sammy and his Wooden Figurines. Even beneath the quiver of age and deteriorating health, his hands continued to create the most beautiful creatures ever seen by the eyes of his friends.
He hunched forward as he worked, his elbows resting just behind his knees. It wasn’t the most comfortable posture for him, but he wouldn’t think of it until she danced free of her wooden prison. For now, he only watched as the wood shavings fell away with each stroke of his knife.