This week, we’re hearing from one of the Words, Pauses, Noises editorial team, Stephanie Dotto, with her short story, ‘Conversations about Rain’. It explores the small irrationalities that appear in a relationship; a moment that most readers would empathise with and almost begrudge.
Conversations about Rain
I rub the cloth along the speckled panes of my glasses and hold them up against the light. No luck. Still covered in spots. I watch through dirty lenses as you button up that green flannel shirt with the tattered collar. You snap the last button closed at your neck and I wonder if you are going to be able to breath properly. I shoot you a disapproving look, but I think you pretend not to notice. You know we are meeting my mother today. In my head, I am telling you to wear the blue sweater with the fox on it. It brings out your eyes and I think my mother will like that. There is a significant silence as you walk into the other room.
I can hear you rifling through the drawer beneath the fruit bowl. The sound goes on a few beats longer than it probably should have.
‘Babe, where is the key?’ You shout from the other room. Your voice sounds slightly muffled. Like you are standing at the far end of a very damp tunnel.
You walk back into the room and I hold up the apartment key that is tied to the long string I wear around my neck. You know it’s there but you are always forgetting. I glance out the window. It was sunny when we woke up this morning. We had opened our eyes to zigzagged rays of light painted across our skin that seeped in through the cracks in the curtains. But now the sun has fallen behind the clouds and the sky has adopted a doom-and-gloom sort of face.
‘Are you going to be warm enough in that?’ I ask softly as I rub my hand against your sleeve. It is slightly creased. These are the sorts of things my mother will notice.
‘It’s sweet how you worry.’ You kiss me tenderly on the forehead.
‘But you hate the rain.’
‘I know that.’
‘It’s obviously going to rain.’
‘We’ll deal with that when we come to it.’
You put your arm around me as we walk out the front door. We are already a few steps down the stairs before I remember to lock up. I run back, two steps at a time, and slip the large key into the lock. It’s an old-timey sort of key. The kind you would normally use for a large plantation house in the swamps of Louisiana. I think that’s why I like it so much. As I’m walking back towards you, I notice a large scratch in the wall next to our front door from the night we had a little too much to drink and I pushed you for saying something hateful that I can’t even remember anymore. I tilt my head and stare at the scratch for a moment, thinking that it looks slightly like an Antelope. I am squinting my eyes so hard trying to figure out the shape that my head starts to throb and I can feel the beginnings of a migraine coming on. This is how people must feel whenever they think they see Jesus in a piece of toast. But those guys probably believe that the headache is just the awesome power of God channeling through their mortal little brains.
‘Babe? You coming? Don’t want to be late.’
I turn around and run back down the stairs where you are waiting at the bottom. You unbutton the top button and I rub my glasses against the hem of my dress because I left the cloth upstairs. You wrap your arm around me once more and we venture out into the unsteady weather.
It’s the mundane dialogue we play out in our everyday lives that are captured and magnified in this piece, exposing the rich undertones of an intimate relationship, and the fears that follow. Our attention is turned to the sensory quality of the writing, hearing the snap of his top button and feeling the cramped pain of an oncoming headache. The second person narrative wraps the reader into her lover’s arms, leading us out into rain with the couple. Another great work from one of our own here at WPN, Stephanie Dotto.
Don’t forget that submissions are now open to everybody so if you’ve got a piece lying to wait, make sure you submit to kingstonCWMA@gmail.com.