Flooding

Patricia Flaherty-Pagan

Patricia Flaherty-Pagan

He looks down at his nouns, verbs and adjectives grapevining across the page.  Outside the French doors, rain pounds down from the black sky.  Maura adds a glob of Dutch honey to his jasmine tea and nudges his cup closer to him.

He points to a verb—restrain—which crouches mid-page.

“It works?”

Maura nods.  She twists her wedding ring on her finger, feeling offended by the shine of the wax in his black hair, the small scar below his left ear, not quite hidden by his sideburns and the sight of his pudgy toes, stuffed like rotten sausages, on her Persian carpet.

“How does it compare to the writing that you read at the university?” he asks, leaning forward.

She holds her breath.  The flash of light from lightning striking in Cipete pulls their gazes to the windows.  Sweat trickles down the back of her neck.

“Your poem is raw. It has…” she says.

He inches closer to her on the couch. Leather whispers. Literary terms run for cover.

“It has nice tone?” she offers.

“Thank you,” he says. His fingers brush her shoulder and then recede. “I knew you wouldn’t judge it out of hand.  After I saw you at the meeting, I knew we were the same. In our habits.”

Silence hangs.

The lights die out.  Maura springs from her seat, calling out a jumble of words about the housekeeper, the security guard, the generator, the cats and flip-flops.

A moment later, she stands in the kitchen, clutching the relative cool of the countertop.  Her mind tries to map the distance to the pillar candles, matches and camping lantern.  But she can see Resham becoming the Rorscharch being in her pre-alarm clock visions.  He holds a woman’s arms down.  She sees him pressing down onto his maid.  She tastes blood.

Maura bites down on her thumb until the metallic taste in her mouth reminds her where she stands.  She is safe in her own kitchen.  She is.

Maura sees the dark form of her housekeeper, Dewi, hurry by her. “Ibu, I will get guard to start the generator?” she asks.  Without waiting for an answer, she leaves.

Maura counts to sixty, looking for a reason not to return to Resham and the sperm ripping through his ABAB rhyme scheme.  Hasn’t he ever wondered why she stopped going to Tuesday night meeting?  Lightning strikes again, closer.  Doors open.  Doors close.

“Pak Zenny can fix our generator,” Dewi says, bustling back into the kitchen.  She points to the sleeping TV.

“On the news, they found a long snake at the bus depot.  Python maybe.  Took five men to hold it,” Dewi says.

“Horrible.”

The lights flicker on.  Maura thinks about volcanoes.

“They found a python at the bus depot,” she says to Resham, returning to the living room.

“So rainy season is over,” he says with a laugh.

Malignant, his poem about his teen self raping his maid sits on the coffee table between them.

“I will give this to my old school friend who works for City Story.  I will ask him if he can get this printed anonymously,” Resham says.

She retreats to the French doors.

“We should get together and share our writing,” he says, walking towards her.

She imagines her bare feet sinking into the wet grass of the garden. As the water fills their holes, all his brothers will run for higher ground.

“Perhaps next weekend?” he asks, then places a hand on her shoulder.  She can feel his sweaty fingers on her through the strap of her rayon sundress.

She imagines the python from the bus depot crushing her birds of paradise, her pepper plants and her peace lily.

“You need to leave,” she says.  “My husband will be home soon.”

Thunder masks the sound of Resham’s feet padding back to the entry way. The creak of Dewi opening and shutting the door for him. The consolation of keys turning in a lock.

“I will call Pak Resham a taxi?” Dewi asks. “The water is deep on the road.”

Maura shakes her head.  This season, everything floods.

 

1 Comment

  1. excellent flash.

    very haunting as the words, the poem, the rape, the possible affair are between the speaker & resham.

    the storm & python work well to emphasize the danger.

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