By Wendy K.
They had barely made it through breakfast before the inevitable, daily clash between Johnny and Murdoch had begun. When they’d both turned to him, each looking for an ally, Scott had escaped through the French doors, leaving an almost visible ripple in his wake.
Circling around the house towards the kitchen, he stopped on the porch and took several deep breaths in an effort to maintain his composure. It had rained earlier and the smell of the warm, moist earth filled his nostrils. In the garden just outside the back door, some cheery yellow blossoms bobbed their heads in the breeze.
The sound of the kitchen door opening broke his reverie and he turned to give Teresa a weak version of his usually bright smile.
“Scott,” she asked as she settled herself on the porch swing and patted the spot beside her. “What’s wrong?”
The young rancher gave up on being composed and let loose with his frustrations. “Why do they always put me on the spot that way? They’re always pressuring me to pick a side or magically produce a workable solution out of thin air. It’s all so exasperating. I swear, one of these days….”
“Scott,” Teresa broke in gently. “Please, come and sit down.”
As he settled himself next to his father’s ward, he let out a deep breath, trying to release some of the tension he was feeling. He sat perched on the edge of the swing, elbows on knees and hat in his hands. “What are you doing out here?”
“Well, it’s such a lovely morning, I thought I’d enjoy a little of it before I start on the day’s chores,” she replied, brown eyes warm. Attempting to distract the upset man, she gestured at the sky off to the west where the arc of a rainbow sparkled in the early morning sunshine. “What do you see?”
“A rainbow,” he replied, eyes going distant. “I learned in my science classes at Harvard that it’s an effect of the sunlight passing through water droplets in the atmosphere. Did you know that a rainbow doesn’t really exist at a particular location? It’s an illusion depending on the observer’s location and the position of the sun. If you went and stood where the rainbow is, you wouldn’t see it. There wouldn’t be anything there.”
“Really?” Teresa asked. She loved to listen to the former Bostonian discuss these types of unusual topics. Scott’s education far surpassed that of just about everyone she knew, except for maybe Dr. Jenkins. “So you’re saying that a rainbow only exists when someone sees it?”
“Well, not exactly,” Scott continued, warming to his subject. He enjoyed sharing what he knew and while Johnny and Murdoch tended to get a little glassy-eyed when he went off on scientific tangents, Teresa was always an eager listener. “You could say that each person sees their own rainbow. The raindrops all reflect and refract the light the same way but not all of the light reaches the observer’s eyes. And that all depends on where the observer is standing. Even now, with the two of us sitting here side by side, we might not be seeing the same rainbow.”
“We each see our own rainbow,” Teresa murmured, half to herself, fascinated. “Do you think Murdoch or Johnny would see the same rainbow?”
“Well, I assume…” Scott trailed off. “Actually, I couldn’t say. I sometimes wonder if they could see the rainbow at all.”
He was silent for a time before he asked the girl, “What do you see?”
Teresa realized with a start that they weren’t really talking about rainbows anymore. She turned to look Scott directly in the eye, answering solemnly. “Something that should be appreciated for what it is, enjoyed for however long it lasts and then let go when it is gone.”
Scott leaned back and put his arm around the slender, brown-haired girl beside him. He used one booted foot to gently push the swing back and forth. The distant rain clouds moved on and the rainbow soon faded but the sun was much higher in the sky before either of them moved.