Stand Still

Submitted into Contest #112 in response to: Write about a character driving in the rain.... view prompt


Contemporary Creative Nonfiction Indigenous

The precise moment before rainfall, the sky gets quiet, time comes to a standstill, and life pauses. The gophers coop up in their underground holes, closing their entryways with excess gravel. The murder of crows find refuge in the thickets of the grandmother tree. The mice huddle next to each other in their hole in the wall.

The rainmaker closes his eyes, arms out, palms upward.

A moment of total silence.

The first raindrop lands on his left palm.

Herbert was driving home on a Friday evening after work. He had just passed through the thickets of traffic and epileptic city lights. The thronging crowds of rush hour became a newly formed memory as he exited the city and entered the thickets of nature, a cathedral of redwoods. And just as he entered, a blanket wave of rainfall swooshed over his windshield as if a mother tucking her child into bed. His grip on the wheel loosened, the first real breath filled his lungs.

Herbert was a nervous type, anxiety ridden, tight collared, high pants, your stereotypical office attired hamster on the wheel of the society’s endlessly meaningless rat race.

How did I get here? was a common visitor questing the halls of his mind, but it never found the doorway of his lips. He was a grayed out background actor on the stage of life, but he never really realized he was on stage, or in an award winning blockbuster drama film. He just went on, on and on. We could call it living, but technically, mechanically, it was so rote and remote from the meaning of aliveness, that it would be a lie to do so. More accurately, he was off…off and off. Poor Herbert. He never even considered changing his name to something cooler, fun, even sexy. He was just Herbert.

His saving grace was where he lived, a warm, charming geodesic log dome camouflaged in the Santa Cruz mountains. It was a gift, a blessed gift from his coworker’s mother’s sister’s boyfriend’s younger sister. His co worker had tried to hook the two up, but she was too wealthy, too full of life, and having too much fun to care. After spending half a day with him at the log dome where she’d invited him for their first date, and finding out he was sharing a one bedroom high-rise apartment in a downtown San Jose with a high school dropout druggie, she sympathized enough to gift him the place, and even sign up the druggie roommate to rehab. Yea, now she was really living.

On the way to his gift of the gods, or more like God almighty proper, the first rain of the season rhythmically passing over his vehicle like the rolls of a self playing player piano, Herbert eased up. He eased up, and this had become his tendency ever since he moved in a few months ago. Each time, he would relax just a little bit more, breathe just a little bit deeper, rest just a bit more comfortably into his seat. To witness his drive from work to home was to witness a man shape-shift, transform in front of your eyes from a shallow breathing minnow to a decently average resemblance of a human being: clearly a lot more work to be done still, but increasingly recognizable as the divine vessel that is man’s ultimate destiny.

This mutative process was the closest thing to magic that Herbert had experienced in his extremely dull and average life on this planet. Maybe it was the first rain of the season, or the excessively stressful day at work, or some other indiscernible force of fate at play, but on this particular day of driving, after a few belly breaths seized and reset the functioning of his body, Herbert curiously tilted his head to the right, leaned forward in his seat, and looked all the way up to the canopy of the grove he was driving through.

An extraordinarily out of character, outrageously bizarre thought had struck his mind. Herbert was looking up with an emotion that can only described as childlike wonder co-mingling with fierce intent, his pupils seeking, dodging rain drops, piercing through the forest top, looking for the terminal source of the rain, as if seeing this fantastical phenomena of peculiarly clear liquid falling from the sky for the very first time. Except it was more than that. Perhaps Herbert was hallucinating, perhaps it was a figment of his metaphorical imagination, or maybe, just maybe, this was the truth. But Herbert was seeing something unbelievable, and was looking for something very specific.

What was he seeing? Well, Herbert was seeing men. Herbert was seeing men, falling from the sky. Herbert was witnessing the raining of men. Herbert was an eyewitness to thousands, millions, billions, even trillions of drops of male shaped figures, falling from the sky, landing all around him, his windshield, his windows, his hood, the road ahead of him, literally everywhere. Not only that, but these figures were oddly familiar…dare he think it, they looked uncannily like what he would see when looking into the mirror every morning, while brushing his teeth.

Herbert was looking for where these men were raining from. Where can so many men possibly be coming from? What could possibly hold such a vast number of men in reserve, and then simultaneously release them all in a melodic fury of incomprehensible proportions? Or, in more Herbertian terms: “Wuttt in dah muddah ov stahh cahhtwheelzs dah deeelheeeere?”

The convictive force of his question drew him to park right in the middle of the road, and step out of his car while impressively maintaining the angle of his head’s upward tilt, not so much so out of the fear of missing out on it’s sudden appearance, but out of the pure, raw, sheer cosmic impetus that was orchestrating the dynamics of this scene of anthropo-crystallography.

Nothing, not even mirror images of Herbert lookalikes falling onto his glasses, and then dripping onto his eyeballs, deterred Herbert’s ecstatically heaven bound trance. Nothing, nothing, nothing.

Nothing else existed. Nothing. Herbert was saturated and soaked, drenched, inundated and utterly submerged.

The precise moment after rainfall, the sky is satisfied as a mother who nursed her baby to sleep. The fields of earth are sated as a baby put to rest after a successful round of nursing. The creatures of nature slowly emerge, nourishing themselves with earthworms, crawling through grass jungles decorated with dewdrops, dipping webbed feet in puddles.

The rainmaker stands amidst a mist, arms to his side, palms facing inward.

Stillness begets movement.

September 25, 2021 01:01

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