I think I never quite understood how I did it. Nausea would get a hold on me, bending me over in a sickening lurch. At that point, it would come, like vomit. Streams of drifting vapor, seemingly endless, pouring out of my mouth.
First, it would fill the room. Next, the house, the yard, the front lawn. My mum always fled when I did it, abandoning whatever she was doing. She would watch as the vapor rose into the air, forming great, heavy rain clouds. She would wait for me to stop, then fled inside at the first crack of thunder.
After, she would wrap my trembling body in the dry towels she kept, like everything else, in waterproof cabinets. She would set me down with a steaming cup of hot tea, them set to work with her mop, laboring for hours on end.
I think I never quite understood how she did it. Dad had given up soon enough. After the fifth time, he had just grabbed his soaked belongings and taken off in his black Cadillac. He never called. Never even wrote. Not even mum heard from him, and perhaps that was the reason she kept it up like she did.
She used to joke about it, especially at the occasions where I felt extra guilty. That was mum, positiveness incarnate. Instead of scolding me, she would simply smile and tell me I had saved her another afternoon watering the lawn. Instead of taking off, she would take me to the Pancake House. Instead of…well, let’s just say she took it the right way.
Every once in a while scientists, or doctors would come to examine me. Any attempts at diagnosing my condition were in vain, however, and left me exhausted. Mum soon started chasing them off the lawn whenever they appeared. She told me I was simply a wonder of nature. Life at school made it hard to believe that, though. The kids there would come up with a wide variety of words to replace the ‘wonder’ in my mum’s saying.
Hardships dominated most of my childhood, climaxing when mum passed away unexpectedly. Among the constant teasing and biting grief, I somehow made it through my last year of high school. I never applied to a university. Enough was enough. Instead, I traveled, telling myself I wanted to see the world. In reality, I was searching for the one thing that had eluded me all my life. Acceptance.
It came to me in Africa, in a village struck by a severe drought. It ravaged the land. Many were starving. The moment it broke my heart, the nausea took me. I collapsed on the hard dirt. I brought the rain.
After, the villagers brought me blankets and steaming hot coffee, nursing me back to health. They praised me, their expressions so full of hope that I broke out in tears. Hope was something only my mum had ever shown me. Seeing it after such a long time, so far away from where I grew up, changed something in me. I felt like I was home. And so I stayed.
I think I never quite understood how I did it.
I did understand what I was, what my mum had told me all along.
I was a wonder of nature.
Illustration by: Lars de Ruyter