Ladies in the Rain

August Fiction
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Ladies in the Rain, 1893, Maurice Prendergast Size: 34.29×14.61 cm
Medium: watercolor, paper

ladies in the rain

In what should’ve been the middle of the summer but was really the tail-end, we were back together in the city; I measured how long it was with my hands, pinching the pages of the one-a-day journal. It didn’t feel like too much. Then again, the pinchful was only the slightest thicker between then and when we were in Kentucky, where everything was on a different level than now. 

Our dads were best friends, and our sisters had a falling out years ago – sometimes we swore our parents were gay, that they attended key parties instead of the concerts they claimed. When I was fifteen, I worked at the venue they frequented. They chose that particular location not for the oversoaped bearded ‘millenial’ scene, but primarily because it was within walking distance, and when they were drunk off enough pinot grigio & PBRs, they’d walk to the lakefront and sit on the rocks. I once thought ‘going to the rocks’ was for the youth of the north shore. Later in high school, I learned that the gen Xers too rolled loud on the rocks.

This August, she had folds above her brow that gave away her age to me. Ten Augusts ago, I was a head taller than her and dreaming of growing old. 

I knew her for every conscience August, saw her choke on a bell pepper not once but three times. In Minnesota, we caught a handful of junebugs in a severed wine bottle while her sister caught a mouse under the gas stove. We bled into the same sink, and the whole cabin reeked of gasoline. The mouse capture was more violent than one would expect.

We grew up listening to our dads’ 80s beach jams and punching each other in the pantry. I think it was partly for the hysterics, but partly for the genuine hope to become the elementary school defenders. We went to different schools for all of everything in childhood. I think she was whip smart. From what I’ve heard.

Our pee melded into one pool, the street was on a deep slant. I think she thought it was more symbolic than I had the capacity to dissect in my state. 

In Nashville, we both wore our hair in braids and held each other in a slow waltz to Good Old Friend. I felt like crying, but was too young to know how to figure out why. I was too young to worry about losing something that meant everything to me. I hadn’t begin to touch everything. She didn’t cry around me, only when she was in real pain. And even still, she breathed herself through it for herself.

We wound up slow dancing together many times through the years, in antiqued ballrooms and sailboat decks, under spotlights and blue moons. I danced with other girls before, to the Grease soundtrack in hopes of getting them to kiss me behind the couch – I never wanted to dance with her like that. 

In high school, we caught my retired dog from falling off the dining room table. He managed his way up there, but like a cow, could not return from his heightened mission. She was scared of dogs, primarily of the younger one who howled at her hooting laugh from the kitchen. When we laughed together, it was like chaos had become a third friend screaming above the noise.

I wondered about loving her, about holding her every day. It ticked away, and expired with the end of a season. Waiting for her outside Mominette in the middle of the end of August, it resurfaced. I wondered about what she’d wear, and I guessed blue. I liked that I thought of blue, and my core warmed when I saw her jacket. Her accent matched mine when she gave the name to the hostess, and I remembered us waitressing, drinking and refilling the bartender’s get-through glass. She wore gold earrings the whole summer, a different pair every day that dangled halfway down her neck. They clinked against wine glasses when she held them to her face, listening closer because she was hard of hearing. She leaned over the table and I didn’t hear a clink, she wore tiny pearl studs. I thought, that’s different, and clinked my own glass with a ring. The ticking clicked and halted. 

I never missed her when I was away, but only when I was as close as I could get. We could guess each other’s shampoos, and spit food into each other’s mouths. I loved her and I loved her, I never doubted it’d age. 

August ended early when she left the city, and she sent me a text from midair. She told me she ‘missed me already’. I picked up the dog’s shit from the street grate and looked up 35,000 feet to see what she could possibly be missing. God, I loved her, but Christ if she wasn’t stupid.

 

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