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In the rain...

A haunting work of fiction...

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It wasn’t long before the rain started. It had been threatening all day, the sky dark with storms.

We’d known the walk was a bad idea before it even started, but we’d gone, anyway. We walk together in silence, the trees arching overhead with the promise of leaves in tightly furled buds.

Later in the season, we’d hardly feel the rain with a leafy canopy overhead, but now, with sucking mud underfoot and bare branches above, it is merciless. We’d welcome this sort of downpour in later months, as it washed the world fresh of the humidity hanging in the air; now it comes down in icy daggers, causing me to hunch my shoulders against the assault.

I steal a glance towards my companion and find him leaning his head back to face the sky, drops of rain spattering across his glasses, leaving his hair in dripping strands across his shoulders.

How can he even walk like that in this mess?

I drop my head and find the tears have started again; this day will not be over for years. It will carry on and haunt. I knew it as soon as the alarm had startled me awake and I could hear the baby crying like he’d been screaming for hours.

The draft from the open door had slapped me in the face, rolling away. I'd found myself tangled in the sheets and a panic, unshakeable, had gripped me until I found myself wrestling desperately to free myself, ending tangled and shaking on the floor.

Crawling and sobbing, I scrambled down the hall to the baby’s room; it didn’t even strike me as odd to find the door closed and the silence echoing in my ears. Pulling myself up, I had opened the door and stared blankly at the empty room; the crib hunched in a corner, draped with a sheet and the old rocking chair, obscenely stationary, covered with dust.

He had found me curled in a ball on the floor, coming in with an armload of wood for the stove. The wood had crashed to the floor, a cacophony of wood on wood, as he moved to pull me to my feet and lead me down the hall to the kitchen where coffee’s bitter aroma already filled the air. How many mornings? How many years? I’d forgotten by now. It all blurred together.

And the more important question…why did he stay?

I look over again and find myself wondering if these days weigh as heavy on you, why else would we find ourselves out walking in the March rain?

Ahead a car pulling onto the road breaks the silence, the wheels spin through the mud and although the driver is slow and considerate, muddy water and smatters of gritty slurry spatter over our boots and legs. I try to bring up some concern, try to muster some shred of indignity and find myself blank.

I wonder if we should turn for home, I’m chilled to the bone and imagine that despite your stoic stare, as if heaven itself should look back, that you too must be suffering.

I open my mouth, trying to find words; it’s hard to speak, hard to remember what words taste like.

I close my mouth and open it again, a fish gasping against the air.

The metaphor brings a laugh, a harsh startled sound that breaks into the air and hangs unsteady. It is enough; your eyes come down, wide and questioning.

The look is too much and the laugh turns into a desperate, hateful sound, finally coming out between a sob and a scream.

I think it is some minutes before I realize I am sitting in the road, in the mud and rain, alternating between sobs and laughs.

You’re looking at me and for once, just once, you don’t seem to know what to do. You! The one that’s always together, you’re looking on and you have no clue.

Somehow, that is enough and I try to pull myself together, I pull myself to my knees, still drunk on laughter and tears.

I reach my hand out and you’re there, reaching out to me. I take your hand and this time, don’t let go. Your hand held like a rudder, I turn toward the house, not sure I could ever call it home. Home was long ago, in another life, one I’ve all but forgotten.

We walk slowly, my jeans stick to my legs and chafe, the rain still pouring down, I’ve forgotten the cold.

It’s colder inside, always colder inside.


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Willow Rose Phoenix

Published 9 months ago

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