There is some fine fiction (and poetry and non-fiction) at storySouth, and this week I’m highlighting the headliner short fiction story for Issue 31 (Spring 2011): And the Rain Fell Through Her Fingers, by Richard E. Dansky (story link below).
“I miss you,” she told me, and the phone crackled static into my ear. “I miss you too,” Really, it was all I could say. “Is the hotel room nice, at least?” “There’s no cable. For two hundred bucks a night, you’d think there would be cable.” She laughed. I laughed with her.
The narrator (who we eventually learn is named, Brian) is stuck in a long-distance relationship that seems to be idling, no going forward, no going back:
“I miss you” was what it always came back to, “I miss you” and that was all. Not “I miss you enough to do something about it.” Not even “I miss you so much I can’t do this anymore”—not that I wanted to hear anything along those lines, either. Just “I miss you”, a placeholder that let us vamp from phone call to phone call to phone call, and on through the night.
It’s the kind of thing that leads the narrator out into the night for a walk in a rainstorm. As he walks he comes across a young woman, sitting alone, in the rain.
She looked up at me, her eyes catching mine, and the corners of her mouth quirked up in a look that said, “I see you looking at me, and it’s all right”. And as she smiled at me from across the sort-of road, I saw that the raindrops were falling right through her. “Hi,” she said. I blinked, and rubbed my eyes. Maybe it was a trick of the light. Maybe I was tired and seeing things. Maybe… A leaf blew through her face. She blinked, as if she’d felt it, and then tried again. “Hi,” she said.
How does one react when meeting a ghost? Our narrator simply calls her on it.
I took a step back. “Is it? Because—and you can tell me if I’m wrong here—I think I’ve just seen a ghost.” She opened her mouth, said nothing, closed it again. Her smile faded, and she looked down at her shoes. Suddenly, I felt like an idiot.
Our ghost’s name is Anna, and she appreciates Brian’s treating her like a “normal” person. They talk about why they are there, outside Brian’s apartment, in the rain, in the world. Neither one is really sure who they are or what they are doing with their life…or their death.
“But I want to help.” There was a whine to the words as they came out, and I hated myself for saying them. “Do you really?” she asked. “I think so,” I mumbled, ashamed. “You shouldn’t be stuck here.” “That’s not what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that you shouldn’t be stuck here.”
The nature of being “stuck”: is it something that happens TO us, or because of our choices and actions? And the Rain Fell Through Her Fingers is Dansky’s attempt to explore that topic. Check it out.
And, if you are looking for an online outlet for your own writing, storySouth accepts unsolicited submissions of fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction during two submission periods annually: March 15-June 15 and August 15-December 15. More details are available at their submissions guidelines page.