A Bow in the Clouds

By Emma Austin

I sat in the backseat of my aunt’s car, sweating uncomfortably in a hand-me-down dress next to my cousin as we circled the lake on the road leading to Grandma’s driveway. It had been raining all morning, but at that moment the sun was shining brightly, even through the tinted car windows.

That morning was the first time I’d ever been to a funeral. Just the year before, when my third-grade teacher assigned my class to make shoe box memorials to celebrate Día de los Muertos, I dedicated my box to my family’s beta fish. Until that rainy day, flushing Cassie was the only experience I’d ever had with death.

My aunt pulled up behind one of the cars lined up in front of that huge house. The next hour passed much like the rest of the morning had: people talking quietly and eating from fruit trays. Women wore flowy sundresses and brightly-colored blouses; the men had on pastel button-downs tucked into their slacks.

That was what my grandpa had wanted, I heard my mom say the night before. He didn’t want a funeral; he wanted us to have a celebration of his life. Maybe it was a better reminder of the person he was, but it didn’t make the occasion easier to bear. I just wanted time to pass more quickly. I wanted to skip forward to when my mom didn’t hurt so much when she thought about her dad.

I was sitting on the floor in a circle with my sisters, munching on cheese and crackers, when I heard my aunt call inside from the screened-in porch facing the lake. Her voice was out of place—it almost sounded happy, but her voice caught when she told everyone in the kitchen to come outside quickly.

“Look! It’s Pa,” my cousin Brooke said as she pointed at something on the other side of the screen. I turned my head to see what she was looking at.

It was a rainbow—the biggest I had ever seen. The arch began at the dam and extended into a full bow, reaching across the lake until it landed in the cove where my grandpa would always give us a turn driving the boat.

I felt like Noah after the flood. I knew the rainbow wasn’t centered in Grandma’s porch view by chance. I knew someone put it there, and I knew it was meant for us.

Grandma came to my side, and I looked up to see her eyes shining. The weekend had been full of tears, but instead of hopelessness this time all I felt was comfort.


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