The Shape of Rain
By Jane-Rebecca Cannarella
The warehouse where the muddle-artists live has an indoor treehouse. It’s there that I’m split kneed, balanced with my hands in fists against a red pipe, hiding money in a lock box above a bed that I sometimes share with a boy covered in freckles. I look at a triangular corner of the ceiling where yellow insulation peaks out and think about how it could house a family of birds, what nests could be made in the indents of ceilings. Little homes created from brittle sheets of padding for lost, hollow-boned beauties.
Later in the evening, the skies spit weather and as a pair - the freckled boy and I - are on our backs looking up trying to see the sound. When it rains the treehouse erupts with the sound of quarters bouncing off the beams. The warehouse shakes itself alive under the dropping water and I squeeze my eyes tight till little explosions of white appear beneath the lids, bursts of colorless fireworks. I focus on the whiteness and the washing machine sounds of the sky; it makes me think of how hollow rain sounded when I was younger.
In the basements of my twenties, the rain made shushing sounds while droplets sputtered in through the many broken windows. With tenements crumbling you become used to broken windows – the norm when you’re the tenant of slumlords. Like a stammering watering can, the grey clouds and jagged glass openings of forgotten windows fed vine-y weeds that grew in the humidity of the kitchen. The kitchen weeds marked the sallow passage of time: a clock made of leafy climbers working their way into a fading home.
When the basement jungle closed its doors to me due to lack of money, I became a papier-mâché bird that found homes in crevices that only existed in discolored spaces. Shapeless and directionless, I created nests in disappearing terrains occupied by fellow wander lusting acquaintances. I made space for myself in the cracks of cushions on shitty trash-picked sofas owned by boys whose names I would eventually forget.
The current version of me doesn’t want to think about those couches or the parade of boys from my twenties, so instead I press my crushed fruit mouth against a blur of freckles to pull myself into the moment. To find a way to be present in the now. I let body weight and dews of sweat feed my pores, falling precipitation that sustains my molted skin like a plant. Pressing my face against the boy’s damp neck, I pull the taste of wet skin salt into the corner of my mouth. I store the sip against chipped teeth so I can drink from it later.
My sister once dated a boy that has the same name as the boy that I’m in love with – the one who lives in a tree in a warehouse, with the freckles in a semi-circle on his eyelids. I want to ask my sister if something about the shared names is meaningful. But I don’t, because that boy existed during the days of her own basement youth and, like mine, those days ended. For the moment I want to be grounded in a space where there are no endings. So, I irritate the pulp of my mouth. Trace a fingertip over the cloud of eye freckles. I curl my fists into his damp flesh before touching the walls of the treehouse. Before falling asleep, I stretch to the full length of my hollow bones.