Memories of crooked rain

I asked her once how she could smoke a cigarette and still taste so sweet. She just smiled and said “I’m cool like that.” I laughed, pulled her close but not close enough. I needed her inside my insides, her soul in my soul. And that’s what love is. The feeling of needing to be one, no barriers, no boundaries. Porous.

At lunch, she sat next to me but turned her back to me, talked to friends at other tables. When I finally got her attention she asked if I’d had wine on the drive up. I lied and said I’d had a glass, emphasis on a. Don’t recall her saying anything about cigarettes but she must have smelled them, and I’d guess the kids and other counselors did too. I was clueless at the time, years later I worked with serious smokers, put two and two together.

When the baseball game ended she told me there wasn’t room in her car and maybe I could catch a ride back with someone else. This was how she told me it was over without telling me. She didn’t know any other way at the time, at that age, and I couldn’t hear her, at my age, just got more needy, more clingy. Eventually I asked her point blank, forced her hand. And when she finally came clean it felt good for us both, I think, to be sure, finally. To be final.

A few years went by. We kept in touch, not often, but often enough. We met for drinks with a friend of mine and she flirted with him as she’d always done. And that was fine. I could see what was coming, see it in her eyes.

When the call came she said there was a party at her place, asked me to come. She gave me directions, I drew a map on paper and hoped I could find it, 45 minutes away. I parked down the street, hooked a few swigs of vodka in the car and wandered out, wandering around figuring I’d find her somewhere, sooner or later. When our eyes locked it felt like it was just us again, just for a moment. A hot, sweet moment. Then the crowd and the music came crashing back. She was dressed in black leather pants, a black t-shirt, pack of cigs rolled up in the sleeve, skin tanned a luscious shade of butterscotch. I bummed a smoke, we shared a beer bottle, she flitted away hostess-style and I fell in with another girl who I overheard saying how much she loved words like effervescent and mellifluous. I suggested efficacious and shifted to drinking with her until the temperature dropped and she began to shiver. I draped her with my jacket, asked her to go out sometime and got a yes, but never saw her again.

On the way out, whatever time in the morning, on the front porch alone saying goodbye to she of the leather pants and t-shirt and butterscotch tan. The hug turned into something a little more, and a little more, and when I invited her upstairs she just laughed. I suggested she was making a huge mistake. She said the mistake would be falling in love with me again, and that made sense. I persisted, she almost gave in, and thoughts of the mellifluous one maybe seeing us nagged at me as we kissed like we used to, like no one else mattered. And I knew success really meant mistake though it felt right trying to make one. I said goodbye, took a few steps backwards, mouthed the word mistake once more before turning my back on her.

Next day I gave her a call, to be sure we were cool. She just laughed and said of course we were.

Never saw her again either.

***

15 thoughts on “Memories of crooked rain

    • It’s a nice quote, isn’t it? I’d never heard it before I came across it while searching for an image for the post. Sometimes it’s not the memory of what’s past so much as it is how the memory makes us feel in the present.

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  1. Mouthed “mistake,” see that…it’s the mellifluous ones get you every time regardless of your efficacy. Loved hearing from you here and thinking my old Pavement poster is implied behind your story…how we’re connected like that is cool. I’ve been playing the hell out of Pavement these past few months for some reason. Will send a playlist I cooked up…be well and send more mail here please! Thanks for sharing.

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    • Yes, that album is connected to that time and there’s no disconnecting it. The poster definitely fired up old neurons that needed some cooling off, so there you go. Minimal editing too, coach. Seems I’ll just have to post and run if I’m going to get anything done around here anymore. Thanks!

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      • Dude post and run is my motto. All from the phone too. Wicked convenient. Loved the rawness in this and the various sensory angles. Hold it up to the light and look what you find inside!

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    • Thank you for the kind words. A bit thin on the details, the imagery, and so forth, but I’m trying not to try so hard anymore, if you take my meaning. More raw, less polished. Thank so much for the feedback! 🙏

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  2. Walt, I think someone up here used the word ‘vivid’ to describe this. It is vivid. It’s as if it’s your real life – and maybe it is, but either way, you tell a story so well. The ending just really did it for me, tying it back to never seeing her again either. I should have seen that coming, but I didn’t. But those five words at the ending take this from a pleasant story/reverie into something else entirely, and I really congratulate you for the confidence of writing in this piece. It’s excellent.

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    • I thank you, sir. A pic that Bill used on his blog featured a flyer for a Pavement show. Their album Crooked Rain is forever in my mind intertwined with the events of a particular summer, and a particular lady. Prompted by the pic, I started listening to that album and then this happened. Glad it resonated with you.

      I once read a prize winning short story just to see what was so prize winning about it. It was about a monk fixing his faucet. Absolutely nothing happened in that story other than a failed attempt at fixing a faucet, and maybe that was the point, but it infuriated me. I want to be moved in some way, which is why I like to end things with a twist or punch sometimes. Appreciate you picking up on that. Hope the novel writing and submitting is going well. Keep us posted.

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      • Yeah I’m working on it. I’ve had one agent request the full manuscript, so I’m waiting on her response. She seems really good. Very professional, which is what I like. We’ll see. I think I’ll market my other near-done novel too, though will take longer.

        I also like stories where stuff happens and I feel changed a bit. Although I did read a book once about a guy who researched saints… such a boring topic, but what that guy did with that novel was amazing. It was captivating. Robertson Davies: Fifth Business.

        I’ll have to delve into Pavement more. Totally get that you got an album resonating around a certain period of time.

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    • Wow, Kristen, thank you! That’s such a nice comment. I don’t think I’ve ever heard writing described as private, but I think I see what you mean. Nice to hear from you, and thanks for reading. Hope things are going well up there in PA.

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