Dirt Words and Dust Words

It stopped afta you left, love.  Afta everyone left, but ‘specially afta you an’ Joe went off.  You don’ know what it was like, yeah, after seein’ you’s off at the gate.  The whine as the gate closes and the warm metal in my hand.  Then yer old battered Toyota kicks up a helluva lotta dust so for a bit I imagine it was all justa dust storm and not you goin’ away at all.  But then I turn back to the house and walk the way without ya.  The wind is all cakin’ dust on my face, but I go ta check on the animals anyhow.  All they a-doin’ was dyin’ in a ditch.  Ain’t nothin’ left to do.

So I goes back inside.  Turns on the radio.  We ain’t never got no TV out here, not even after you left.  You goes into the other towns and they nothin’ but papery wood houses and old border collies with even older owners, but they got these telegraph poles, and those wires above them, they is all parallel lines and criss-crosses.  Like it’s all mathematical or somethin’.  There ain’t nothin’ mathematical here.  No criss-crossin’ parallel lines.  An’ when you feed your cattle an’ milk em and look after them nice an’ good, they still go on a-lyin’ down and dyin’ at yer feet.  Ya think ya know ‘ow life works.  Then ya come out here an’ it’s like ya born again.  Everythin’ to learn and ya neva know the answers.  Yer’ll be in drought for five er so years, hard, earthy drought, so hard ya can feel it through yer boots.  Then straight outa that grey ol’ sky’ll come somethin’ you never expected.

I’m a-listenin’ to the radio, hearin’ static an’ old music they played at our graduation, love.  Tha’s when a dapplin’ sort of sound hit the roof.  It’s like the sound the metal makes right in tha middle of the day, like it’s crackin’ same as the dry ol’ earth.  But it was headin’ to evening now and the sun is just a bright spot between the hills, so it wasn’t that.

I could remember rain, yeah.  But I remember it real different.  When I think ‘o rain, I see it on glass windows an’ when we were kids we used ta chase the droplets with our fingers til’ ol’ ma says we’ll make the windows all dirty.  I think maybe there’s rain a-comin’, but it makes me think ‘o glass windows an’ we never had no glass windows.

When I was a teen we used ta go on cruisin’ through these streets and all the while ma brain imaginin’ stealin’ from those shops afta dark, takin’ beer, takin’ money, takin’ condoms.  ‘Cos they never had no windows, it woulda bin easy.  But we never did.  Then tha’ shopowner, he said tha no windows was bad for business ‘cos when the wind was up, the merchandise come flyin’ off the shelves.  So he left.  Then the big ol’ Greek man with the shop nexta him said ‘is business was all bad ‘cos no one come for the general store no more.  So he left too.

It’s like the rain, yeah.  Once it’s a-started, it ain’t stoppin’ any time soon.  In a coupla week’s time, there ain’t no one left.  Only me an’ you an’ Joe.  Then ya left and the rain come.  Only me an’ the rain in this ol’ town now.

I’m a-sittin’ in the corner of that crappy tin-roofed hut we used as a home.  The sun ain’t out no more and I ‘ave to get up to light the lamp, but I don’.  It gets darker an’ darker and tha’ patterin’ sound on the roof gets heavier and heavier.  The crickets are singin’, cos it’s a warm night, yeah.  There’s me an’ there’s the rain sound and there’s the crickets.  We’s the only ones left.

Then the rain, it seeps in through tha’ empty window socket.  It comes a little bit at first, like someone left a hose up on the sill once it’s bin turned off.  Then it comes more an’ more.  The rain’s getting’ right heavy out there, I thinks to myself.  Can hear it splashin’ itself in the puddles.  Can’t see nothin’ though, except tha’ stream of water comin’ in where the window oughta be.  I can smell it now, it’s all fresh, like what you think those waterparks on billboards oughta smell like.  All clean like.  Probly tastes that way too.  Not like the stuff that used ta come through our taps, that’s sat in a tank for all those stinkin’ hot days.  I feel like walkin’ out there an’ openin’ my mouth and feelin’ it pool up in there and hit my eyes and my nose.  Neva felt so clean in ma life.

But I don’.  I sit there.  Radio’s lost its signal by now.  Lamp’s not bin lighted.  Stomach’s a grumblin’ cos I ain’t eaten.  And tha’ rain comin’ down the window sill like a little waterfall, reachin’ down onta the tiled floor and swampin’ into those little cracks you could neva get the dirt outa, love.  There’s little puddles and they bigger now an’ bigger still.  They join up with one another an’ there’s one right at me feet.  I ain’t wearin’ proper shoes, my feet gonna get soaked right through.  Can’t hardly see now, but I can ‘ear that water comin’ closer and closer.  I ain’t sittin’ in no chair, I got ma backside on the tiles cos they’re cool in the warm weather, but I’m gonna be drenched by the time this rain stops.  But it ain’t neva stoppin’.  On the roof, it’s like a drummin’ sound, those songs that neva end, keepin’ pretty good time too.  Like Joe’s fat little fingers on the car dashboard and ya told ‘im off for makin’ too much noise.  Joe wouldn’t neva believe it if he were here.  I should be out there a-takin’ pictures or somethin’.  Ain’t got no camera.  Anyhow, I just sit there an’ watch the water poolin’ all around me.

Gets pretty late.  Can’t get up now, it’s all surroundin’ me.  Don’t wanna get ma feet wet.  So I go to sleep in tha’ corner, with ma backside on the tiles an’ the sound ‘o Joe’s fat fingers in ma brain.

When I wake up again, there ain’t no more rain.  All around me the water’s seepin’ back inta the tiles.  Ruinin’ the foundations, most likely.  Ain’t gonna sell this place to nobody anyway.  There’s still a drippin’ sound where the water comes off the window sill an’ hits the tiles.  Sounds strange.  I move about.  I’m so cramped up I’m groanin an’ yawnin’ all over the place.  I get up and look around me.  The place is just about empty.  I take a few clothes and ma toothbrush and ma good shoes and ma shotgun.  Walk out to the ol’ stationwagon and load ma things inta the back, cept the shotgun.  Then I go round to the paddock out the back.  Three sheep left.  They all lyin’ down.  I check ‘em and we really only got two now.  But then I let ‘em go.  Harder to die of starvation, anyhow.  They went quick an’ some fox’ll thank its lucky stars for me.  Then I throw ma shotgun down next to ‘em.  Don’ want it no more, an’ I know you’ll say I shoulda taken it to sell, but I didn’, yeah.  Then I go back to tha’ ol’ car and I drive off down the road.  Don’ close the gate.  Left wide open, yeah, as if I’m a-waitin’ for someone.  But I ain’t.  Nobody gonna come here no more.

So I go away, leavin’ ma house with all the water on the floor an’ its open gate an’ all the mud where there used ta be broken ol’ earth.

Drive on an’ nobody believes me when I say I saw rain.  Pubowner tells me I must be drunk already an’ I won’t serve ya no drink, matey, not when ya like that.  So I goes on.  Goin’ to the city, yeah, that’s where we goin’ meet again.

You can tell Joe Daddy saw himself some rain, or you can keep quiet ‘cos ya don’ believe me.  I’d keep quiet too if I was you.

I’ll see ya soon, yeah.


INSPIRATION: my boyfriend asked me to write a story about windows.  So I wrote a story where there were no windows.

Thunderstorm in Antarctica

They’re like waves, yeah.  Great white waves stopped afore they can break.  And when you stand there, alone, your shadow is the only black for miles.  Until the clouds come over, then everythin’ turns black.  You can’t use your eyes.  An’ all your equipment ain’t makin’ you see either.  You gotta use your ears, nose, the tips of yer fingers.  It’s hot, the rain, that’s how you smell it.  You remember how thunder sounds, but it might be the groanin’ of the ice.  The wind whistles an’ it’s like a wolf’s howl.  It’s a warm wind, yeah, but yer shiverin’.  Then there’s a noise comin’ from all around.  You can’t see, but yer guessin’ it’s the rain.  The smell comes a right inter yer nostrils.  Yer takin’ big gulps ‘cos it reminds ya of home.  An’ the little noises all around ya, they ain’t little no more.  They is poundin’ like footsteps on an icy doormat.  “The rain’s come ta visit, ma.”  There’s lightnin’ to give ya light, so yer can see the cracks in a runnin’ race at yer feet.   An’ miles away a great big needle o’ ice does a dive inter tha ocean below.

BELOW: song I was listening when suddenly had inspiration.  Does this not remind you of a thunderstorm building in momentum?


Bit of a character sketch.  I’ve written this scene fifteen-million times, but this is my favourite version so far.

There are storm clouds overhead.  I can see them out the window.  The sky is slowly getting greyer and greyer.  It’ll be black soon.  And then the rain will come.  It comes heavy here, in great big slops like somebody’s put a bucket of rain up there and let it fall.  And quickly too.

At least I’m inside.  I’m stuck here, but I’m inside.  I’ve been here for fifteen days.  Door closed, nobody enters and the door is only not closed when they push food in.  Haven’t eaten much, though.  Haven’t talked to anyone for fifteen days.

Simon ain’t here.  All that shit in over now.

Sitting against the tiled walls, it’s nice and cold and my forehead is hot, and I’m watching the storm brew overhread.  That’s what is happening.  Not much else to do, really.  As if I’m waiting.  But I don’t know what I’m waiting for.

It’s twelve o’clock now.  The strap on my old watch is broken, but the clockface is still intact.  Lunchtime by any normal standards.  Havne’t seen a normal standard in a long time.  Nothing gets pushed under my door today.  Must be a meeting on.  Or a massacre.  Can’t hear anything here.  No news, nothing.  Everyone could be dead and I’d never know.  I’d come out one day due to curiosity and find myself sole survivor surrounded by rubble and bodies.  Not likely.

One o’clock, and all I’ve done for an hour is sit against a wall.  Haven’t the strength to get up.  Haven’t the means to get better to get the strength to get up.  Co-dependance is shit  Especially if everyone is liable to forget about you.  Rain hasn’t come yet, though the clouds overhead are thicker and moving fast.  Must be windy outside.  I’m still hungry.  There are rats in this place.  I heard them and lately I’ve seen a couple.  If they forget to feed me, I can go after them.  They’d probably scuttle away.  I’m too slow.  Sometimes when I’m here I think about Charles Darwin.  Learnt about him in school.  About how our species is evolving to be better, smarter, more successful.  But really we’re devolving.  Into something that stares at clouds all day and dreams of eating rats.  Someone walks past the door but doesn’t stop.  I’m still here.

Two o’clock.  Rain is falling.  It’s just started.  I knew the clouds would break soon.  Something in the air, probably.  Or just some sense I have.  They’ve forgotten to bring any food today.  They’re starting to forget about me altogether.  Soon the food will stop, then the people will stop walking past, stop using the rooms nearby, stop inhabiting this place completely until it crumbles to dust and me with it.  All the better.

It’s three o’clock and there’s noise.  Noise close.  Noise involving me.  The rain is pounding hard, rattling the window, so I can’t really  hear.  I thought the storm would’ve started by now, but the clouds are still boiling up there, waiting.  Like me.  I’m waiting.  How much longer can you stay in a bathroom, locked in by your own weakness, before you die?

There is a rap on the door, a sharper sound than I’ve heard in over two weeks.  Before now, the place was full of gunshots and shouts, but now my ears have dulled and a rap on the door is enough to make me jump.  A voice and then a boy.

The boy has shaggy hair like everyone.  Shirt painted haphazardly red like they all do in this place.  Black pants.  Black eyes.  He’s come to seek me out.  He’s come here for help.  Yes, seek help from the veteran, from someone who’s thought out this revolution, fought it out until they could no more.  Yes, everybody once knew my name.  But what have you done now?  What new turns have you taken without my guidance?  How much have you destroyed?

The boy looks at me and his weapon gleams in his hand.  I will destroy you.  We are young and will destroy everything of our predecessors.  You are older and you thought you could hide.  You cannot.  I have come to seek you out.

There are no ears to listen and I have no strength to cry.  All that comes out is a strangled gasp.  The storm breaks over my head.  I cannot see for the rain pelting down around me.  The lightning flashes like his weapon and the thunder fills my ears full.  The last this I see are his eyes, black.

This is the end of an era.