My prompt this week on Search Engine Stories is you left me standing in the rain.
Here is my story –
I was born in the country under a River Red Gum. My mother was a painter – landscapes mostly. One day when she was nine months pregnant she stopped under a tree, my tree, to paint the swirling, rolling river full of orange clay – and went into labour.
She gave birth to me, unaided and alone, a wood nymph with mud-stained clothes, wrapping me in the cloth she used to clean her brushes. The oranges, reds and browns she was working with settled in my hair, colouring it with nature’s hues so that I truly resembled a creature of the woodland. She called me Myrtle after the order of the tree –
‘You are my little River Red elf,’ my mother would croon as she painted in the large studio she had at the back of the house where the light fell just right. ‘My little Red Gum beauty.’
My father was a farmer – sheep mostly. Sometimes I would look across the paddocks and see an ocean of white fluff moving like a cloud that had fallen to land. Dad would bring us home a prize fleece which mother would spin into wool to make fancy jumpers for the people in the city.
It got hard when I was around 12. There was drought all over the land. Bad, bad drought that made grown men cry. I know because I saw Dad and Uncle Baz crying over the dead lambs. Over a hundred of them – starved to death because there was no feed for their mothers and their milk dried up. Uncle Baz shot himself one night in the shearing shed. He couldn’t take it anymore.
Dad wasn’t the same after that. He was quiet. He started to sell off all the sheep and the tractors. Mother tried to stop him but he wouldn’t listen. He couldn’t. ‘It’s never going to rain,’ he said. ‘Not now.’
I cried then, trying to catch my tears in the little glass dish mother put out filled with jam when we had company because I thought that tears must be pretty close to what rain looked like. And here I was, 12 years old, and I’d never seen rain.
Now I am 25. My hair is russet. I work in an art gallery where people tell me all day long they would like to paint my hair, to capture the earthy glow of it on canvas.
You told me that when we first met. I was unmoved. It had become such a commonplace remark. But I fell for you anyway.
We were happy for a bit, weren’t we? Walking through dusty city streets saying: ‘What a beautiful day.’
But you wanted to leave. A place in the country, you said. Away from the hustle and bustle. I could not tell you I would never return to the place that turned my Dad into a stranger.
‘I don’t want to go,’ I said. ‘I’m a city girl now.’
You tried to talk me round. It was no use. When you’ve seen what I’ve seen there is no backing down. I shook my head for over a month.
‘So that’s it then,’ you said, releasing me from your grasp. Your fingers didn’t have a single callous. Not like my poor Dad’s.
We were in the park where the lorikeets gathered at twilight. Our favourite place. It began to rain. Drops heavier than tears.
‘I don’t want to leave you like this,’ you said as you handed back my key. ‘Not in the pouring rain.’
‘Just go,’ I said. ‘It’s not as bad as it seems.’
I watched you go, my one true love up till now, as I stood in the rain. The puddles on the road spread like ink. The water gushed and grabbed at my feet. I could see rainbow reflections in car headlights. You had left me standing in the rain but I was unrepentant. For it only ever rains in the city.
Another marvellous story. You capture human moments perfectly.
I dont know how you do this…every single time. You are truly inspiring.
oh i like this selma… the way the rains signify the end so many times,, when ordinarily we think of rains as cleansing and life giving… excellent twisting metaphor…
Great story. I like how it has a very strong Australian flavour to it (for me, there are the echoes and influences of Australian Aboriginal Dreamtime stories, Mary Gibbs’Gum nut Babies (Snuggle pot and Cuddle pie), ‘Dad and Dave’, Henry Lawson, etc, etc. But one doesn’t have to be Australian or know about Australiana to enjoy your story which explores universal and perennial themes, characters and situations. Well written, well done. DavidM
ANTHONY – thank you so much. I appreciate it.
MELEAH – I do find writing quite therapeutic. It helps me make sense of things. You are also an inspiring person. I mean it!
PAISLEY – there is something about the rain, I can’t really put my finger on it but it creates a sense of synergy for me. Maybe all that Mother Nature unleashed stuff taps into my muse or something. I don’t know, but give me a rainy day and there I am – writing away.
DAVID – awww, thank you, my dear Aussie friend. Drought is definitely a problem in rural Australia as you and I know. I have heard some terribly sad stories. How hard it must be to lose everything because it just doesn’t rain. I can’t imagine. I am so glad you liked the story!
What a wonderful story. Sad, but still… there’s something about it that just says something. I wish I could put my finger on it, but I almost feel like the main character will change things, make the rains come, or something. I don’t know.
Truly wonderful, as usual.
So moving. So real.
Great story. It’s funny because I just finished a story that has a very similar beginning as this one.
For some reason I can’t leave a comment at Search Engine Fiction to link to my attempt at your prompt.
I don’t do fiction, but this has given me a great idea for a video. But I can’t do it right now … I need to wait for it to rain.
I wonder if I can use that excellent song for a sound-track?
KAREN – OMG, you are so intuitive. I thought the same as I was writing this. We are definitely on the same wavelength. XX
BRENDA – oh, it is truly great to hear from you. I hope you are well. I really appreciate the visit.
LAURI – I will fix it up for you. I am coming over to read your piece shortly!
TRAVELRAT – any genre is welcome on Search Engine Stories. Stupidly, I entered ‘searchenginefiction ‘ as the URL when I was setting up the blog (it was 2AM) and now I’m stuck with it. C’est la vie. I am sure Chris would be delighted to let you use his song. You should pop over and visit him. He is a lovely person.
This is so moving. I wish I could write this way. However, I am truly inspired by your creativity that it sparks my own. Thank you, Selma.
And yes, my songs are for free. As long as my name tags along, I don’t care where it goes. 🙂
CHRIS – do you know how many people have listened to your song and loved it? I am just so excited and glad right now. Nick has been singing it all day. This, to me, is what the creative spark is all about. You are an inspiration. Pure and simple!
Selma you are just amazing!
TBALL – you are the one who is amazing. But thank you. XX
what a sad tale, but I can understand why she didn’t want to go back to the country, the memories of her father still live in her mind, great piece
Selma, you write very well! Very interesting and touching story; good work with the rain.
LISSA – there are so many stories like this in rural Australia where the lack of water can make farms go bankrupt. Can you imagine never seeing rain? I know some kids on farms in Australia never have. So nice of you to stop by!
AUTUMN – I really appreciate the visit and your lovely comment. Thank you. 😀