In winter, Illinois is an ugly place. The dead flatness of the land does nothing to defy the oppression of the clouds as they thunder over farms. The trees that in summer sheltered houses and creeks and fence rows with their leaves now try to hold back the swollen winds, their empty limbs shifting and clacking like old bones in a weather-beaten box.
My wife keeps a postcard. It shows a sky of bruised purple-gray, an earth that is almost not there, and in the foreground leans a weathered fence with the abbreviation “ILL” painted in black. She’s from Illinois. Why she keeps it, I don’t know. Maybe the foreboding in the picture and the twisted humor of the abbreviation for the Land of Lincoln speak to something in her soul. It only makes me want to shake my head. I don’t understand the picture. Then again, I don’t understand my wife.
Rain drops splattered against the windshield. I turned on the wipers and rolled up my side window. Traveling seventy miles-an-hour on Interstate 74 did nothing to improve the look of rainy rural Illinois. Traveling to a funeral was doing even less.
–Opening paragraphs from the story “A Sip of the Moon” by David E. Booker