Stillpoint Staff Series: “It’s really coming down out there” by Maggie Shaw

It’s really coming down out there

Precipitation slurred down the smooth curve of the windshield and shadows of the raindrops painted your small crumpled body like a Lichtenstein screenprint as you sleep in the passenger seat, your head crammed between the headrest. I want for you to be awake so I can talk to someone about the rain, but really what’s the point in talking about the weather? Nothing new can be said in observation of the rain that can’t be summed up in that automaton mantra that oozes from our purple zombie lips as we stare out dirty window panes and glance at one another exchanging Sweet ‘N Low packets and mumbles of “It’s really coming down out there.” Why would I wake you up to repeat something so meaningless? It won’t change the weather, it won’t change the fact that these windshield wipers stopped being effective a significant turn back on the odometer. So you sleep and I endure the downpour.

The world is so grey-amidst this rain,that is- and it washes the colors off the trees; the ecosystem becomes a child’s rudimentary chalk drawing fading off the sidewalk. You stir slightly and your head falls into a better position for resting. I turn down the music so as not to wake you up. Billie Holiday just barely aches through the speakers, and I wonder now if it was her sadness combined with the concrete in my veins that made the sky so heavy that it burst. I could have turned on the radio to some saccharine station where the DJs cackle like opiated ringleaders and the music grasps the waves like thick, knotty rope, the rough fingers of square peg lyrics and round hole instrumentals climbing their way into consciousness, breaking through the clouds and obliterating weather completely. But instead, as if possessed (or at least without any good reason), I slid the CD into the player and let the weird sadness evaporate into the atmosphere so I could breathe it in and let the dreamy plaque corrode my lungs. I want to ask you about Billie Holiday, and if you think she made the sky ache so deeply it could no longer hold itself together. But I know you need to rest, and I already know what caused the rain.

The tires on my car do their best to stick to the pavement but the worn tread wobbles on the whooshing torrent and fishtails up the freeway approaching uncertain stability. My internal organs vaporize with the threat of a spin-out, a sublime cataract of aluminum and dew. “Don’t hit the brake, Don’t hit the brake, ” I whisper to myself. I think I learned that in driver’s ed, I remember the balding instructor with coyote teeth singing about road signs. What did he say about hydroplaning? I want to ask you if I am supposed to brake, but your eyelids softly shut form a yin and yang and I would not turn peace into terror.

“It’s really coming down now”, I think and I catch my breath on the big plastic blinds and fake potted plants that clog my verbiage with colloquialisms. As time passes I feel a part of the deluge, so I depress the accelerator and zoom inside the inundations, splashing and sloshing blindly through the gray. I forget where we are going, I hope we still get there. Lost inside of a watercolor well, the electrical synapses in my brain short circuit. The aqueous state misdirects me, and I am utterly lost. I want to ask you where we are going, I want you to tell me we are going the right way. I’m terrified that I’m driving off course to a storm that doesn’t concern us. I want to scream that I don’t know where we’re going, but I pull a sweatshirt from the backseat and lay it across your folded arms and pull it up to your ears, to muffle the roar of the air conditioner and the sound of the riot under my ribs.

Visibility completely evades me, the water stings the plexiglass and steel in monolith sheets, and I ride in the middle of the white line where the water does not assemble and conspire to kill me. I am becoming removed from the storm, aware that the soggy world exists around me but unable to comprehend it as I sit inside the car. I resist the environment, it becomes drenched and I, unscathed and soaking dry, float through gracelessly and detached. I am overcome with a strong desire to throw my umbrella out the window, but I would never roll down the window. I observe as an outsider how dark it

has become. The sky no longer feigns consideration of a sun, and rain upgrades to storm as thunder and lightning accost my nerves back into the narrative. You dream on and I want to shake you and shout at you like the weather. I want to tell you how I feel. I want to ask you if there are any snakes in Ireland. I want to promise you I will look for bird’s nests in trees. I want to know the name of your great grandfather. I want to know the way you feel. When I look at you I see you feel asleep. I feel like my heart stopped working with the windshield wipers.

I am worried about the rain, I push the dials on the radio imploringly, fingering the knobs like a rosary. I scan through the frequencies for a gravelly voice, searching for the voice of God or a meteorologist, any form of guidance in my waterlogged wandering. The traffic reports sizzle through the static like divine intervention but I don’t know the roadways they advise me of, the words fall flat because they are not spoken through your tongue. I am directionless without your voice as a beacon, and I want to pull over. I look at you and know that I have to keep driving.

After hours, your arms unfold and you lazily yawn into an upright position. I smile and you smile sleepily as you blink at the world around you. Outside the window puddles are shrinking slowly under the weak purpling sun.

“Did it rain?” you ask conversationally

“Oh just some scattered showers” I echo.

I don’t know the name of my great grandfather. I don’t know the way I feel.

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