Felicitous Rain

Three Cheers and a Tiger ~ Bronze
Andrea Gregory

Red lights mean very little to you at this point because you’re running late. You’re always late. This is one of the problems he says the two of you have. Your mother and father would say the same. Your teachers from grade school to college, well they’re in agreement as well. Damn them all right now because it’s a bad day. It’s raining and it’s cold and you are busy contemplating many possible excuses at the moment.

There’s no traffic. Saying you were stuck in traffic will be a bad excuse because it’s a complete lie. Excuses that are half true have a much more natural flow for you. People have told you that you’re a bad liar. Your face turns red and you start to stutter. Follow up questions throw you all off. Those same people believe your tales of half truths. God bless them, you say, because sometimes you need to get away with stuff. We all do.

You turn the radio up as loud as it will go and sing along. You scream the lyrics to a song you don’t usually like. Right now it’s your favorite song. You’re not sure who sings it, but scream-singing along with the words blocks out the irritation of your squealing windshield wiper. One of them is working fine. The other is making pitiful attempts to keep up and hold on. That is the one making the noise. God, shut up. It just doesn’t rain enough for you to get it fixed.

You take your eyes off the road because you need lipstick. You have to enter that court room looking like the hottest mistake he’s ever made. Your hair is a lost cause due to the weather, but your lips will look luscious and shiny in the shade of illegal red.

You apply it in your rearview mirror and then see that the color lives up to it’s name. Flashing blue lights really seem to bring out your eyes. Your eyes are brown, but your lids are blue. Your mother thinks blue eye shadow
makes you look trashy. Ever since she said that blue has been your favorite color and the only shade of eye shadow you wear. She would not be happy right now.

When you turn down the radio you can hear the sound of you beautifully crafted, half true excuse forming for later. The thought of telling it to him and a judge and whoever else is mad because they’ve had to wait for you makes you nervous, but this is car trouble. Once you’re used to the idea of that you’ll be fine.

You stop your car, but your heart now beats faster than you were going. You are not in control of that broken thing. This you already knew.

The police officer come to your window. He’s mad and even more mad now that he’s getting wet. You roll down your window and the storm splatters into your car.

“Didn’t you see me behind you?” he says, a question that demands not an answer, but a half true excuse.

You wish you could give him one. You pray to come up with one. He looks old and angry. You believe this has nothing to do with you. You pout you red lips and look confused. You do not answer his question. After all didn’t he only ask it to find out if you were the type to question his authority? Half-truths and girlish charm are your hidden strategies. The rain is on your side also because how long will he want to stand out there knowing it will take twice as long to drip and dry.

He (not so politely) request to see your license and registration. You curse those expired things and pretend to look for them.

“I have them somewhere,” you say shifting through the clutter of your glove compartment and your purse. You even check under the seat.

“You ran three red lights. I can’t believe you didn’t see me behind you, and with this weather,” he says to you. “How could you not see me?”

You look at him and smile shyly.

“If I had seen you I wouldn’t have run all three,” you say.

He’s slightly amused and will now let you go. Even though you swore to him that your license and registration are somewhere around here he’s wet enough and sees the bigger picture of no damage done.

“You drive carefully Miss,” he says before walking away and back to his car.

You don’t correct him. You could. After all you are still married, but you let it go because you’ve won and are late and keep getting later. Life is hard to keep up with and even harder to catch up to.

You arrive at the court house. You leave with a divorce. No one even asked why you were late.

Your lying, cheating ex-husband says, “You have a nice life living with your parents,” trailing behind you out on the court house steps.

You want to stop and turn around to say,” I most certainly will not,” just to defy him, but you don’t because you know how much he hates having people walk away from him.

You let him have the last word, and besides you are planning on having a nice life. You don’t even look behind to see just how how mad he is. The expression of you leaving him is something you’ve seen before. You waited with your bags packed for him to get home to the house you cleaned and the house you never left to say, “I want a divorce.” He didn’t take it well, but fighting your fear of claustrophobia has made you strong enough to walk away, twice now. Maybe you’re getting used to it.

Home, sweet home you think entering your parents house. You were born in this house because you came too quickly. It was in the living room with the help of a neighbor. The neighbor was a nurse who will still tell stories about how stubborn your mother was, the whole time reaching for the door, just wanting to get up and go before it was over. That is your mother. You love her and know that she would never get up and go. That was her strongest moment and the last one of it’s kind.

You watch TV on the couch and smoke cigarettes on the porch. Your dad comes home and is upset about both these things. He tells you about his house and his rules.

“You don’t leave a husband who’s perfectly capable of taking care of you to come lie around and mooch off me,” he says.

You really don’t want to get off the couch. It’s raining and you feel worthy of some depression time. Your father thinks you should get a job. He really thinks you’ve made a horrible mistake. You look to your mother. You think she should be on your side, but all she does is offer a sympathetic half smile in your defense. The smile is to you and from behind your father’s back so that he doesn’t see it.

Around 11 o’clock you run out of cigarettes. Your parents have just finished watching the news and are now getting ready for bed. You walk by your father brushing his teeth. The bathroom door is open and he sees you with your coat on.

“Where do you think you’re going?” he asks, drooling a mixture of saliva and toothpaste.

“Out,” you say and keep walking.

He spits in the sink and then follows you down the hall.

“Oh no you don’t. We have rules in this house, young lady. This isn’t some motel where you can just come and go as you please.”

“I’ll be back,” you say.

“If you want to come back you won’t leave.”

At 28 years old you threaten to run away from home.

Again you drive in the rain. You search the radio for a song to blare, something that will drown out your bad wiper, one you can play louder than the sound of your father’s voice. You need that song that will help you forget everything. Where have all the good driving songs gone? You’re frustrated and aggravated and don’t have the patience. You slap you entire palm against the dials to shut it off. All it does is switch to AM.

The voice of a president you did not vote for tells the world he’s dropping bombs on Iraq. He says this so that a.m. radio can rebroadcast it over and over again until people start to feel helpless or patriotic. You just want a cigarette. The voice of the man leading your country sounds far away like it’s in a tunnel. You know that Iraq is even further away and that neither of you will ever go there. It bothers you like a blister from wearing bad shoes. Just know that you did not vote for him and will be more careful about your choice of footwear in the future.

It takes you fifteen minutes to drive to the nearest gas station. When you get there you really need a cigarette. You forget to turn your lights off, but remember to lock the doors. The man behind the counter is younger than you and want to see ID. Yours is in the car, so are your keys.

Your clothes quickly become drenched. You look through the driver’s side window and see your keys on the passenger’s side seat. You just stare at them, hoping what you’re seeing isn’t real. It can’t be. It’s raining so hard. There’s thunder roaring and lightning that cracks the sky.

AAA would say they could help you out in an hour and a half. You don’t have AAA. You make a collect call from the pay phone to a father who tells you to fend for yourself. After you’ve already hung up the phone you scream.

“I can take it. I can take it,” you yell up to that place where all the rain comes from.

Bring it on, you think, but then address the question to God of weather or not all this rain is really necessary. When was the last time you went to church? You think about that in the aftermath of unanswered prayers.

“Fine, I’ll get wet,” you say to the ultimate power you may or may not believe in.

Standing in the spot light of your headlights you’re ready to take on the world because sometimes it’s all wrong. You wonder if this is patriotism to one’s soul or if the whole world is patronizing you. The two bleed into one and the same.


Andrea can be reached at Andrea_Gregory[at]emerson.edu.

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