IT'S RAINING OUT. Raindrops are bombarding the windows. Hundreds, thousands of bullets pound to get in. There’s an occasional deep rumble accompanied by a flash that leaves you seeing spots and then the rumble subsides softly. You hear the relentless barrage of water bullets coming from every direction, encompassing you; your world. The windows, the walls to the right and to the left and in front of you and behind, the roof above you, you are under attack, trapped. It’s really coming down. You have the blinds pulled and only thin crème colored see through drapes hanging down over the windows allowing you to see the turbulent yet peaceful darkening sky outside. Then the growl turned roar of thunder and a bright flash and the spots, all of which hit fast and hard and then subside softly yet again. It’s not cold inside but you feel cold, damp. You take a sip from your coffee and listen to the rain. The coffee is not as hot as it once was, but more so…warm.
Besides the sound of the rain and the thunder and the occasional spontaneous flash of lightning, there is nothing. No sound. Nothing. Just you sitting there at your, really not big enough to be, dining room table in your dark apartment listening to the rain, sipping on your coffee, contemplating your next line to her. You tap the point of the pen to the pad. Tap. Tap. Tap. Just you and one lamp you have turned on with a low-watt bulb that blankets your apartment in a soft yellowish glow, enough for you to see but not enough for you to see well.
There’s a low rumble and your world rattles, a flash and then those spots again. Count em’, one, two…ah, they’re gone. Throughout, the sound of the rain continues. Steady. You take a sip from your dying coffee and the longer it sits there, the worse it tastes. The longer you sit there, the worse you feel. It’s cold but more of an internal cold. The apartment’s not cold. It’s you. Your bones feel chilled, wet, how you remember feeling when you were a kid after swimming and going inside, entering a house with the AC set at 70 degrees on a hot summer day. You feel the rush of arctic air hit you as you slide the glass door to the side and reluctantly enter. Your trunks sopping wet, the tile floor like ice on the bottoms of your feet. It’s hard to move but you do quickly so that to dry off and change and get warm. Droplets fall from you onto the ice-like tile floor as you tippy toe to the bathroom. Then a rumble shakes the apartment and you and the windows rattle and the blinding flash outside and then the spots, one, two, three…and they’re gone again. You drink from your lukewarm coffee again and set it down and it tastes worse than before and you feel the pen still held in your right hand. You squeeze it and roll it between your thumb and index and middle finger absorbing the hexagonal shape. You sit there listening to the constant rain which sounds so rhythmic and so . . . steady, it’s like . . . nothing. You contemplate. Hmmm. What do you say to her? How do you tell her what you feel? You’ve never been good with words. You’re not a writer. You don’t read. You don’t even talk well. Actually, words are more detrimental for you than they are beneficial. If you could go without using words at all, you’d be better off. You wouldn’t be in this, how do you say, predicament. If there was a way to retract words after they were spoken, then that would be something. If you could un-say words after you’ve said them. Words. Fucking . . . words. Words, or more like, your words, have always got you in trouble. They’ve ruined everything you’ve ever almost had. Your, not-even-really-lukewarm-anymore-coffee, ripples as the apartment shakes from a furious rumble accompanied by another startling flash and then the spots, one, two, three, four…and, they’re gone again. Besides the steady beating of the rain and the incandescent soft yellow light from your low-wattage lamp, an occasional grumble of thunder and strike of lightning, the spots, your rapidly cooling half-drank coffee, and this cold feeling, it’s just you. Just you sitting there reflecting on what you did, on what you said, what words you used and mulling over what to do, what to say and what words to use. If you could only un-say words. Fuck. You tap the pen-point to the pad, tap, tap, tap, but not intentionally. You hate fucking words but you know that despite words historically being your downfall in more than one . . . hundred occasions, you know they are your only chance at salvation. Your only chance to, how do you say, articulate how you feel.
What you feel. And what do you feel? What the fuck do you really feel? Not just externally, but internally. And not no bullshit-teenage-lust-shit either. The real shit. The real love. The kind of love where you still want to be next to her even after you fuck her. Do you love her love her? Like that? Do you? Crash! A loud roar startles you along with the flash of lightning and the spots, one, two . . . and, they’re gone. You take a sip from your, on the verge of being cold, coffee and the sound of the rain blankets anything and everything and you sit there and try to determine what it is you need to write and what it is you even want to tell her at this point. Do you love her? Actually, do you like her? Because you obviously don’t love her, or you never would have done what you had done. Right?
There’s no way someone can treat another person that way and do what you did if you love them love them. You physically wouldn’t be able to. You physically wouldn’t be able to say those things. Right? Yea, right. You wouldn’t. Your heart wouldn’t allow it. You’d be, how do you say, incapable of hurting someone if you truly loved them, if you truly loved her. The storm is calming and the rain has lost some of its force but is still a heavy consistent downpour. Maybe you never loved her. Maybe you thought you did. But, maybe you didn’t. Maybe it was just the excitement of being with someone new that disguised itself as love. Maybe that’s what it was. Maybe that’s what it is. And what is love? Does love even really exist? Are we capable of love? Capable of, what’s the word, compassion, beyond compassion for our own selves? A low growl and a quick flicker of white through the window and through the apartment and no spots this time. The storm is moving. The worst is over. The rain is still constant but dissipating. You are more confused now than you’ve ever been but maybe that’s because you had a breakthrough. A, what’s the word, epiphany. Maybe you never loved her. Maybe you’ve never loved another human being, ever, in this life. Maybe you will never love another human being. If you are not capable of loving, are you capable of being loved? And now this is a whole other can of worms. Maybe you don’t have to love her to be with her, to have her love you back. Maybe that’s the only way. Maybe she was the closest you’ve been to loving another human being you’ll be able to conjure up. Maybe she is. Fuck. What the fuck do you say to her? What do you write? There’s no way for you to take back what you have already said. Is there? A way to un-say something? You are holding the pen with the point touching the paper, tapping it, tapping it. The rain is softening and becoming sporadic. Through the windows is becoming lighter. The yellowish tint in the apartment is becoming more . . . grayish. And you have it. You have the words. The words! You now know exactly what words you are going to write! And so you do . . .
by Bill Pieper