Bless the Rain

 

I didn’t tell Rosie we were going to resurrect my cat until she arrived at my house.

“For fuck’s sake Joanna, again?”

She wasn’t very tolerant about these things, probably her biggest flaw. She made it sound like I purposely killed my cats in some sadistic ritual just so I could practice my resurrection spells, but I didn’t. I want to make it clear that I don’t kill cats, or any animal. If the RSPCA had a Human Of The Year Award, I would probably win it. Except I wouldn’t, because I’m not vegan.

It was my sister Helena who ran over Minx, my third cat, with her Toyota Corolla. A shit car from the start, and now a shit cat-killing car. I intended on keying it later that evening.

I led Rosie through our tiny house, down our tiny narrow hallway, to the backyard. Minx laid in the middle of the yard wrapped in an old blanket surrounded by my resurrection candles. It had been pointed out to me multiple times before that it was weird to own several sets of candles, all for their own specific purpose, but to any Wicca this was obviously a necessity.

“No, nonono this is fucked up, Jo. It didn’t work last time, I don’t want to go through this shit again.” Her hand covered her mouth as she peered over at the wrapped bundle.

Rosie was my girlfriend but she didn’t know it yet. Helena said that this didn’t count and was actually very creepy, but Helena also felt no remorse after running over my cat so what the fuck did she know, really. Her suggestion was to cast a love spell, but love potions were quite ineffective and toxic, with research showing that they have a large chance of causing IBS. Besides, Rosie was already my girlfriend, confirmed by my star charts, and I would never use magic against her because her love had to be pure and consensual. Which it was because she did love me.

I lifted the blanket and Rosie spun around and gagged. My sister shouted from the kitchen window, “That cat is mangled AF, Jo, if your voodoo shit even works it’ll still have all its ribs broken.”

Truthfully, Minx was not in prime condition to be brought back to the living realm. I’d still have to take her to the vet, and doubted if my Centrelink payments would cover the costs of a newly-resurrected cat.

 Don’t cry don’t cry don’t cry it’s okay; Minx is going to be with Cleopatra and Stevie now. it’s going to be fine just slash those fucking tyres and never let another cat near your cursed sister again.

“Rosie, can you pass me that shovel?”

She did, leaning over a little because she was standing a foot away, her face turned towards the house. “Can I go inside?”

“Yeah.”

I dug the shovel into the earth.

I had a dream that I was dating Sylvia Pankhurst. On our first date we threw rocks at shop windows as we screamed VOTES FOR WOMEN and distributed communist literature on the streets of East London. We kissed in front of police officers and kicked dirt into their eyes as we ran away, then snuck inside Parliament to cast hexes on politicians.

She cooked me lasagne and we made out in between mouthfuls. It was kind of gross but also kind of really hot.

She pulled away but kept her arm tight around my waist. “And we’re not girlfriends, you understand that, yeah?”

“Duh. Monogamy is for heterosexuals and fascists.”

“Fuck yeah,” she said, and jumped back on me.

When I woke up I googled whether Sylvia Pankhurst was actually gay (it was probably Christabel, if any of the sisters were) and wondered if wanting a monogamous relationship made me a fascist. My Che Guevara poster glared down at me.

“I’m not a fucking fascist, Che.” I frowned. “Why do I need to prove myself to you, anyway? You’re a straight cis man. Disgusting.”

Sleeping with the curtains open allowed me to rise naturally with the sun. It was instinctive, and beneficial for my body clock. I liked to keep my physical vessel in-synch with Mother Nature. Sadly, I could not convince Rosie to do the same, so when I called her at 8am, she answered with an irritated groan. But she still answered, which assured me that my morning calls were not wholly unwelcome.

“Come over today. I found a spell that’s going to help with your job interview.”

“Isn’t that cheating?”

“No, it just expels any anxiety so you don’t stutter or forget answers.”

For about forty seconds she made incomprehensible grunts which I had come to recognise as her waking-up sounds.

“I was at yours two days ago. It takes me an hour to get there, Jo. I’ll just stutter my way through the interview like a regular person.”

“I can come to yours. I don’t mind the trip. Train rides soothe me.”

There was a long pause and I had to make sure she was still there. “Did you hear me?”

“Come over tonight instead, my parents are going to be out.”

Her parents didn’t like me very much and I wasn’t sure whether it was because they were homophobic, hated descendants of the Mediterranean, or disapproved of pagan witchcraft. It might have been all of them, or just my personality.

“Cool, I’ll be there by seven.”

She grunted as acknowledgment and hung up.

The power went out. Rosie swore.

“No, this is good. This is real atmosphere-setting. I love it.” I realised I couldn’t read the spell book sitting on the floor in front of me. “I don’t love it.”

“Wait, I’ve got some candles.” I heard her stand up and start walking away from me, her hands running along the walls. I sat in the dark on her loungeroom floor, squeezing my eyes shut and hoping that my other senses would adapt. Maybe I’d be able to feel the vibrations through the floor as she walked back, like a snake. Closing my eyes, I inhaled the scent of the peach pie she made earlier and hoped my sense of smell was becoming dominant.

“Hey, can you help? I can’t hold all of these.”

I stood up and tripped on the spell book. Waving my arms out in front of me, I slowly made my way over to her room. She’d already lit a couple of the candles, holding one up to her face so the flames were reflected in her glasses. The rest were scattered across the floor, and I recognised them immediately.

“Are these all the candles I’ve given you?”

“Um, yeah. It smells a bit like Dusk in here, doesn’t it?”

“I didn’t buy these at Dusk! Who do you think I am?” I picked up some of the candles from her bed, and held them close to my face, breathing in the scents of strawberry, ginger, lemongrass. “I bought some of these years ago! You’ve never used any of them?”

She lowered the candle she held so that her face was less visible, as though she was trying to hide from me. “Um …”

I sighed. “It doesn’t matter. It’s fine.” I gathered them in my arms and made my way back to the lounge. Rosie followed and picked up the candles I dropped.

Helena would have called it a fire hazard, but we lit all twenty-three candles and placed them around the room. It would have been romantic if I weren’t overwhelmed by all the scents merging together.

Running a hand through my hair, I leaned over to flick through my book. Rosie stood and gasped suddenly. I glanced up at her but she wouldn’t look at me. She seemed nervous. She really needed to start drinking more herbal tea.

“I totally forgot. I wrote you a poem.”

“What – you did?”

She spun around and stumbled back to her room. Rosie was a writer and I had been nagging her to write me a personalised poem since we met three years ago. She always retorted with ‘but I never write poems about people I know’ and gave me earrings for my birthday instead. Earrings were good, but I asked for a poem. Anything. Two lines saying she appreciated me. That’s all I wanted.

As soon as she came back into the room I jumped up and snatched the folded piece of paper from her hand. “Don’t be judgemental,” she said.

“Of course not.” I unfolded the paper and smoothed it out on the coffee table. It read:


I BLESS THE RAINS DOWN IN AFRICA

I BLESS THE RAINS DOWN IN AFRICA

I BLESS THE RAINS DOWN IN AFRICA

I BLESS THE RAINS DOWN IN AFRICA

I BLESS THE RAINS DOWN IN AFRICA
I looked up to meet her expectant gaze. “This is just a line from Africa by Toto repeated five times.”

She sighed. “No it’s not. Why do you always question my artistic expression?”

“I don’t, it’s just … is this it? Really? You didn’t even write it.”

“Fuck, well if you’re going to be rude, give it back.”

I looked back down at the words and they all blurred together. It would have been embarrassing to cry at that point so I squeezed my eyes shut and tried to breathe. But I could still smell all those fucking candles that had been sitting in her cupboard unused for years and all I could think was why do I bother why do I fucking bother she doesn’t care nobody cares I should just disappear and go live in the bush I’d be so good at living in the bush I love the fresh air and being able to see the Milky Way and mountain ranges and wombats and –

“You’re a lousy girlfriend,” I whispered.

“What?”

I opened my eyes. “What?” Fuck.

Fuck.

“Um.” I stuffed the paper in my back pocket and picked up my spell book. “Yeah um I’m going to go now goodbye.” I jumped over three candles and ignored her calling my name as I shut the front door.

Helena walked into my room without knocking, which I’d told her not to do before because she might walk in on something she shouldn’t, like me masturbating or summoning an ancestral ghost. She stood in the doorway and watched me dance manically across my room, flinging my arms out at random angles and kicking my legs as high as I could get them without tearing a muscle.

“Haven’t you heard of headphones, you prick?” she shouted over the ABBA music blaring from my CD player. She walked over to turn off the music and I shrieked

“What the fuck is wrong with you?”

“I’m going to dance myself to death,” I gasped out, jerking my hips, “until I can no longer feel pain or I pass out from exhaustion. The headlines tomorrow will read Girl Tragically Killed By 70s Music.”

The scowl on Helena’s face told me that she didn’t approve of my plan. “Can’t you just meditate and drink some organic tea? What’s with all this melodrama?”

Shut up.

Helena leaned across my bed and yanked out the plug, killing Waterloo. I lunged towards her, still attempting to dance in the silence, but she wrapped me in a bear hug and threw us on the bed. I struggled against her weight.

My phone rang and we both froze and stared at each other. Helena lifted her arms and I walked across the room to pick up my mobile. It was Rosie. My stomach tightened.

“Hello?”

“Are you mad at me?”

“Um, no.”

“Good. I’ll be at yours in fifteen minutes.”

I’d forgotten that last weekend we had planned to camp out in my backyard to watch the blue moon. The plan had made me excited at the time, but now thinking of seeing her face made me want to run away and hide. I pressed my hands to my stomach and groaned. “I feel sick.”

“You shouldn’t dance to ABBA on a full stomach,” Helena said.

I groaned and collapsed onto the bed beside her. She patted my head, and in that moment I loved her so much that I almost forgot that she’d killed my cat only days before.

We lay on a picnic rug under three layers of blankets, facing the sky. Though she was right beside me I could barely make out the features of her face, the only light coming from next door’s kitchen and our mosquito zapper hanging from the veranda. We’d been lying there in near-silence for almost two hours, and the moon didn’t look any bluer than it did before. I was starting to think that Rosie was asleep, until she rolled onto her side to face me.

“That poem was just Africa by Toto,” she whispered.

“Wow,” I whispered back. “I never would have guessed.”

“Listening to it gives me the same feeling I have when I’m with you.”

I frowned. “I don’t know what that means. Is that good?”

She nodded and shifted closer, wrapping one of her arms around mine. “It’s real good. I never want to feel anything but that feeling.”

“Oh.”

She laid her head on my upper arm and I leaned my head on hers. We forgot about the moon and fell asleep. I dreamt about rain and the smell of peaches.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published in the University of Melbourne’s Queer magazine, CAMP

 

 

 

 

 

 

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