SHELDON LEE COMPTON

 

The Rain Appears and the Rain Goes Away

Donna wanted very badly to kill Morris. Not end his life mercifully or assist him in passing over to the other side. She wanted to destroy him, to murder him. She wanted to invade his lifeforce like a schizophrenic horde – skinning and gnashing her way through the very thrust of his living blood. She wanted to torture Morris to death, into a cavernous and fully conscious death, a death fully aware that all things moving within its field were uniquely without life.

She saw him dying in everything. The same way people who want to believe God exists will see his image in strange places. The way clouds moving into arrangements caused sunlight to spread across a shadow, angling it out of existence. In the scent of damp soil in late evenings  and of unknown things growing in darkness year after year. Donna imagined eruptions of supervolcanoes that destroyed everyone, beginning with Morris.

Thinking of Morris’s death heralding in all the other deaths on the planet gave her a nice jolt. She felt that electric charge move across her shoulders, the one that always came to her before she lashed out, punched and scratched and clawed. Before she became unruly.

***

A lovemap is usually specific as to details of the physiognomy, build, race, color, temperament, and manner of the ideal lover. It is suggested that love is like an inkblot test, where pair-bonding occurs if projections on the other are mutual, typically in a courtship phase of mating.

***

Donna didn’t always imagine Morris’s many deaths. She once loved him. They were childhood sweethearts. Both had their first kiss with each other, a kiss that started as a pressing together of soft flesh that smelled of honeysuckles on a rainy day in October and ended when Donna split Morris’s lip with her tooth. They were both only six when this started. It continued until they were eleven, off and on. And it was never talked about. One day the two were nothing more than a boy and girl who lived on the same street in the same small town and then then the next day they were behind the power company building kissing or behind the church lunchroom or in the Osborne’s hillside backyard. Off and on in the way a child’s attention can become fixed and immovable only to disappear entirely inside the next minute.

It was a kind of sorcery then. And later, after the death fantasies started for Donna, it was still sorcery, but darker. By the time Donna had started spending time thinking of his body decaying in the summer sun, Morris had mostly forgotten her. He married young and had his first two children before Donna graduated college. The last thing Morris thought of during the course of his long days and nights was childhood love. He thought most often of rest.

***

A lovemap is a person’s internal blueprint for their ideal erotic situations. The concept was originated during discussions of how people develop their sexual preferences. It was defined as a developmental representation or template in the mind and in the brain depicting the idealized lover and the idealized program of sexual and erotic activity projected in imagery or actually engaged in with that lover.

***

There were times when Morris hoped it would rain forever. A place under the persistent thrum of falling water was insulation from the world. When everything and everyone near him was coated in water, and continually being coated in water, Morris was safe, could breathe, could allow himself a moment to relax his body and soul. It changed the way the atmosphere smelled, the actual surface of reality.

And there were so many times Morris needed that change, a break from the cyclical existence of work, work, children, children, work, rest for a short time, and begin again. A steady rain, not too overpowering and not a drizzle, had more than a nostalgic effect on him. It placed him outside his hourly struggle. A rainstorm couldn’t last long enough for him. God could go back on his promise and flood the world a second time and it still wouldn’t be enough.

***

When Donna found Morris again after so many years he had grown into a man of routine. And the most routine part of his routine was that he walked Dover Street every time it rained. He leaned slightly forward as he went, onward toward the locations along that one-lane paved road – a rusty fence overgrown with honeysuckle, a small church, always the power company building, an abandoned camp house that had been empty since he was a kid, the one with a carport. He ended the walk beneath the carport, sitting on an old picnic table to sniff the air and watch the rain gather into the gutters and spill down in ropey gushes. For Donna, watching him do this was an awakening. A great flood was precisely the way to kiss Morris a final time.

***

Lovemaps may be influenced by genetic or prenatal factors, but their specific content must come from the senses. These associations typically form during experiences before the age of eight. A child who accidentally becomes sexually aroused during spanking may go on to develop an interest in erotic spanking. Once formed, the lovemap is extremely difficult to alter.

***

What no one knew about Donna and Morris, what no one, after a certain point, could have guessed, was that it seemed they were soul mates. This appeared most credible when having a close look at the lifelines along their palms. They matched in near perfection, with the exception of a single difference – Morris’s lifeline was faint, the length stretching across his palm could have been nothing more than a hair. The coroner said that, in comparison, Donna’s lifeline was a deep trench, as if with a large, dull blade she had carved it there herself.

*

SHELDON LEE COMPTON’S work has appeared in Wigleaf, New World Writing, PANK, Vestal Review, decomP, and elsewhere. He has been nominated for the Chaffin Award, cited in Best Small Fictions, and was a finalist for the Gertrude Stein Fiction Award. He lives in Kentucky. / Photograph by KAIT MAURO, who can be found at kaitmauro.com.

 

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