(I wrote this one somewhere around 2005, originally published on the now defunct, but still legendary, Aspect Journal….)

The first quick click-spits of raindrops snap-pop off my bedroom window. The clock radio illuminates the obscene hour of 4:36 AM as the first storm of the season begins like a firefight in staccato bursts. Its Morse Code clatter quickening now, sizzling like bacon, sputtering and blistering in the night. Irreverent and insolent, not the typical soothing patter of rain.

But then many things sound different to me lately: this low rumble in my chest, the gauche thunk of my crutches on the linoleum floor, the empty clacking of the clock in the kitchen where the making of breakfast once calmed me. Like knowing she was there. Like the rain.

I reach across the empty bed and the robotic tin voice of the weather-band injects its sick resin into my heart:

YOU ARE LISTENING TO NOAA WEATHER RADIO FOR THE GREATER TAHOE BASIN – WINTER STORM WARNING FOR THE SIERRA NEVADA – SNOW – HEAVY AT TIMES WILL BLANKET THE SIERRA NEVADA FRIDAY THROUGH MONDAY – AT LEAST 1 TO 3 FEET OF SNOW CAN BE EXPECTED EACH DAY – SNOW ACCUMULATIONS THROUGH THIS WEEKEND COULD RANGE BETWEEN 4 AND 9 FEET – WITH LOCALLY HIGHER AMOUNTS –

This morning’s rain falls like fists.
Lefts. Rights.
Jabs.

Liquid hammers beating a drunken march on my eardrums.
Uppercuts.
Hooks.

I duck and weave, back into a bruised corner, and dive under the sheets, laced more like stitches than fabric, searching for solace only to find taffeta on the memory of my skin: her layered sheets of silken hair shrouding my face, the furnace of her fiery skin, the subtle bed of honeysuckle in the hollow of her neck. These nights are filled with phantoms now, sensory ghosts: the whir of CD trays and the whisper of our thighs, refrains of sultry saxophones and syrup-steel guitars, tricot sighs, pastels on the sunrise, and the musky gauze of forever in my arms as she slept.

URGENT – WINTER WEATHER MESSAGE – SEVERAL SYSTEMS WILL BRING STRONG WINDS AND SIGNIFICANT AMOUNTS OF PRECIPTATION TO NORTHERN CALIFORNIA THIS WEEKEND – SNOW LEVELS WILL DROP THROUGHOUT THE DAY AS COLDER AIR MOVES DOWN WITH ANOTHER SYSTEM – SNOW LEVELS ARE EXPECTED TO DROP TO AROUND 500 FEET IN THE NORTH AND 1500 FEET TO THE SOUTH SATURDAY MORNING – STRONG WINDS WITH GUSTS UP TO 55 MPH WILL ACCOMPANY THE SNOW –

My alarm wails signaling the second round. The rain attacks with renewed fury switching to southpaw keeping me on my toes, socking me in the gut. Roiling waves of nausea overwhelm me as I sit up and swing my swollen, reconstructed knee off the bed and onto the floor. I get dressed and limp out to the garage to initiate my latest winter ritual.

I open the garage door revealing the morning tempest. The hard rain in pellets stings my skin. The wind is a banshee spitting breaths loosed from the snakes of Medusa whipping in coils. My eyes water, my hands redden, and I gingerly swing my new knee over the seat of the cycle trainer and settle in.

I rock the pedals back and forth for several minutes before I can make a complete revolution. The trainer’s freewheel sings an airy hum with each half-stroke. Back and forth. Forth and back. It sings our first kiss under stars spread like spilt sugar on a smoky violet night. Forth: it hums a new tattoo on my knee, six months of rehab, and a missed winter. Back: it sings our first walk down College Ave. in late-October dusk, our cheeks fired with the first cold kiss from autumn. And forth: it hums a sad ballad blasted from a shotgun, point blank to my heart, and an empty house.

It groans: pedaling full revolutions now, as slow as ice shifting through time, eroding the memory of anything else, and leaving a glacial till of her in its place. It’s humming now and I’m drifting off into my terminal disease, blacking out the noise, and settling into my frigid moods. Dancing alone to the slowest songs in white rooms tilted to about 45 degrees. And in the distance, the mountain range extends, the rolling hills, the peaks and valleys, my thoughts stretch out to infinity. Reminders of how we thought it could be: so clean and quiet, so charmed and never-ending. Like the rain.

 

 

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