Heat out of the darkness all night
long. The light of morning strikes
like a match. Buildings all over the
city open their mouths to breathe.
Windows with and without fire
escapes gape open.
The light struck the Old Man’s eye in
the kitchen. He wears an undershirt
that shows his armpits.
“Red boots, and yellow boots,”
The old man shook the newspaper in
his hands. He glanced at the girl in
the blink of a turning page.
“Uh huh,” he said. He turned his
chair out of the sun.
The girl said, “and boots of dark
blue rubber. And rubbers of light
“When it rains. When it rains, slip on
your boots and I’ll take you out.”
“What color will I wear?” the
nameless girl asks”
“It doesn’t matter. They’re all
ANOTHER AIRLESS MORNING
Another hot airless morning.
Nameless opened the back door to
her apartment. She let the light
outside come in. It sizzles away the
shadows of the back hallway and
heats the rubber boots of different
colors lined up on the floor.
The old man put his paper together
and threw a look. “Are you doing
something on purpose?”
“Boots of all different colors from
white to black.”
He opened his newspaper and said,
“And they’re all yours.”
“It’s important to keep a little girls
“Rubber boots really look cool.”
The next morning the backdoor is
The light through the open door
sparkles on her rubber boots.
“They shine!” she says.
He flaps the newspaper like
butterfly wings, and turns a page.
“The colored rubber they’re made of
shines like wetness,” he says.
They did? She looks into the dog
nose of the black boot she has put
on. She drools a gob of spit splat
onto its toe. She sees a hazy mirror
image of herself in the toe she’s
wearing on one foot.
“And when they get wet, the rubber
is slippery,” nameless says. He
crumples the paper in his lap and
looks towards her.
“And the shine is bright,” she says.
“Did you use water from the toilet to
shine those boots?” the Old Woman
asks from the back stairs.
“No. Papa said rats swim in the
“Right. And so they do!” the Old
The Old Man asked, “What’re ya
doing with your boots on?”
“You said you’d take me out with my
“When it rains! When it rains! It’s
not raining now. Not a shadow on the
ground. Not a cloud in the sky. Not
chance of rain today. ”
“Why? Boots without rain aren’t
“ ‘Why?’ ” the Old Man asks amazed.
“Yeah. Why?” the Old Woman asks.
“Because rubber is waterproof.
Rubber boots don’t make sense on
feet unless they’re keeping water
off the feet.”
“That’s stupid!” the girl says.
“My sentiments exactly.”
“Hey! Who’s older here? I’ve been in
many rains. Many many rains.”
“I have too,” the girl said.
“But not all over the world. I
remember the rains I’ve been in. I
was caught by a rain in Spain without
my boots on. I was caught barefoot
in Malaysia by a heavy rain with
drops as large as ping pong balls
popping all around my feet. Rain got
in my shoes in Milwaukee. It wet my
fuzzy socks. And my wet socks
squished when I moved my feet. I
felt like I was walking barefoot in
the spit of thousands between my
toes! Ugh!” He shudders. “It was
awful. But spit-shining your boots is
the way I used to shine mine. Just
don’t get any juice on the floor.”
“You’re being disgusting on purpose.”
He raised his eyebrows at her. “Ooh!
Disgusting. You’ve been talking to the
Old Woman. Just wait. The next
time it rains, when it’s boot-time, I’ll
show you the rain.”
“How will I know it’s a rain?”
“And not a drizzle?” the Old Man
“Or just a shower,” the Old Woman
“Yeah,” What’shername says.
“You won’t go out in a drizzle?”
“How will you know you’re not out in a
“You will not take me out in a
“A drizzle sounds like pop bottle
bubbles popping on the windows all
over the house.”
“You won’t go out to see what’s
making the sound of fuzzy bubbles
on the windows?”
“No fuzzy bubbles.” She shakes her
head. “No! No! No! No!”
“How bout a shower?”
“No! No shower! No! No!”
“A shower sounds like baby flies
flying into the windows.”
“Little rain drops…”
“No little rain drops.”
“…that now and then raise a ding
that sings in the glass.”
“No! No! Not little rain. You said rain.
“Oooh! You really want rain?”
“What’s rain like?”
“Oh rain! Rain drops of a rain are big
and fat and sound like they hit the
glass hard enough to break.”
“What about me?”
“Will the rain break me?”
“Stop your cute kid act! The rain
isn’t acid. The rain is drops of water
flicked from the fingers of a giant.”
He puts his finger to his thumb, nail
to nail. “They fall on you and feel
like a stranger doing this…” His
forefinger springs off his thumb and
smacks Nameless’s cheek.
“Ow!” Nameless says.
“Don’t cry. That didn’t hurt.
Remember when a moth crashed into
“Maybe a little sting.”
“When it rains it will hit a lot of
little stings. They will be cold. Most
rains come with a cold touch on a
“The rain will touch me?”
“Rain begins with drops as big as
moths, millions of them. They fall out
the sky and tap on the windows like
the fingertips all over the house. You
hear the rain tapping the glass and
see rain clinging to all the windows.
That’s how you’ll know it’s raining.”
“When it rains, I will wear one red
boot and one black boot,” the
nameless girl says.
The next day is sunny and bright.
Not a cloud in the sky cast a shadow
on the street.
The Old Woman sweats in her
chemise. She smokes a cigarette in
the shadows of the kitchen, with all
the windows and back door open. She
put the cigarette between her lips
and took the newspaper in both
hands just like the Old Man.
“Have you seen a lot of rain?”
“A lot of rain?” the Old Woman
snubs out her hand rolled cigarette.
The Old Woman blushes Nameless
feels in her face. From where the
Old Woman sits she can see the
smoke slowly eddying toward the
backdoor. She touches the ash end
with a fingertip, over a brass hat
ashtray. She puts the butt behind
her ear. “Yes. A lot of rain. The
next rainy morning daylight, we’ll get
in our boots and raingear and go
walking in the rain. I want you to see
raindrops clinging like clear beetles
hanging upside down to the joints of
a spiderweb. Look up close and you’ll
see the spots on their bug backs are
reflections of the world upside down
in a raindrop.”