Out Loud, I Prayed for Rain
This morning’s forecast was a 45% chance of precipitation with a strong wind blowing out of the northwest. I was excited to see the image of the cloud with the raindrops mid-fall next to the anchorman in his blue suit and red tie. He looked happy as usual as I ate my corn flakes, which made them taste better. I let the milk drizzle down into my bowl when I scooped and started thinking about it raining milk outside, which would be cool, but that probably won’t ever happen.
I like rain a lot because I think my mom is less stressed when it’s raining. She doesn’t feel like she has to exercise or do garden work and instead she cleans the house just like I like. She also cooks a lot of Italian food on rainy days, which is my favorite. Someday I will learn how to cook and make amazing Italian food like spaghetti and pizza, and when I bake my kids cookies they’ll love me even more. All my children will check the weather with me in the morning too so that when someone asks them what the weather will be like on any given day, they’ll know.
After I got dressed and brushed my teeth I went searching for my Kenneth Cole wallet. I like expensive things because I feel special having items that no one else has, like this wallet. I take it out in school and turn it over in hopes this cute girl Anna who sits next to me in history will see it. She hasn’t said anything about it yet but I’m going to try to make an impression again today. I found it underneath my comic books this morning, which really made me mad because my mom knows she’s supposed to put it in my top desk drawer and it wasn’t there when I looked. But it’s raining outside today so I know tonight she’ll put it in its proper place, or else I’ll yell at her and then things will be better tomorrow.
One day I hit her across the face because this butterscotched bushy cat that’s in my head tells me to do things like this sometimes, so I meowed and hit her in the kitchen. She looked at me and said, Did the cat tell you to? And I nodded and she gave me a hug. I told her to clean up the house or else the cat would come back and she said she understood. Later that night everything was in its place. So today, if it doesn’t rain, the cat will probably come out and make things right again.
I got breakfast first thing when I came to school: two orange juices and a bar that says low fat on the outside. I’m watching my figure for Anna the girl who sits across from me, or for any other girl I think is cute who compliments my Kenneth Cole wallet. First hour is mathematics and I like that class because Mrs. Netwin tries to make story problems that involve weather since she knows I really love it. It’s also first hour, so none of the blue seats are warm. I still feel the plastic just to make sure it’s cold and so far, it always is. I hate fifth hour because by then almost all of the seats are warm and feeling like clothes right out of the dryer. Fifth hour is history class and my teacher understands about the seats so he lets me stand until mine has cooled off. He’s really nice.
In first hour, after we say the pledge and begin our daily lesson, I eat my breakfast. I drink one orange juice in twenty sips, then eat my low-fat banana chocolate breakfast bar in twenty pieces, then finish drinking my second juice in twenty sips. This takes me until half way through class, usually a time when I ask to go to the bathroom. I walk very carefully to the lavatory in hopes a girl will see my nice Adidas track suit and compliment me on it; then I go inside the cinderblock-walled latrine and wash my hands for two happy birthday songs.
I heard once that if you sing the happy birthday song while washing your hands, your hands will be germ free. I sing it twice at a low whisper just to be sure, then dry my hands and look at my face in the mirror. I have a slight afro if my hair hasn’t been trimmed, but I put wax on it at home this morning so it looks really nice. If it’s a test day I usually bang my head on the wall in order to give myself a headache. I had a headache the day I took the practice ACT and I scored a 29, which is really good for a kid my age. It’s really quite logical: headaches produce higher tests. Today there was no test so after a careful inspection of my skin, teeth, and nails, I headed back to class.
Mrs. Netwin smiled when I walked back into the room. This boy Cody is a real stinker and kept throwing spitballs at this ugly kid Shawn who nobody likes. Mrs. Netwin wasn’t picking up on it and it was making me angry. All of the sudden Mrs. Netwin was staring at me and I couldn’t understand what she was saying. I scanned the room like a cool front sweeping over the planes and all my classmates’ eyes were on me. I thought maybe some storm system had moved into the classroom, maybe even disappearing rain, which rains in only one place and makes the person under the cloud vanish. It’s something I invented and one day I’ll be a millionaire from it. I don’t have the kinks worked out and it can follow me anywhere, so I assumed that’s why I couldn’t hear and people were staring.
I could hear again and Mrs. Netwin was pulling my chair back, asking me to step out into the hall.
Andre, why are you making cat noises?
Huh? I didn’t know why she was asking me. I had only been thinking about my invention.
You were meowing and sounded quite frightened. Are you okay?
Yes, I’m fine, I said.
Okay, well if you want to go to the office to rest for a bit, you can.
Ok, I said. I looked down at the floor because she was embarrassing me. I didn’t want to go to the office. The tile was cracked and looked like a freeze-frame of lightening.
Do you want to go to the office?
No, I said.
Okay, well then come back to class. But if you keep meowing, I’ll have to ask you to leave. It’s distracting for the others.
I didn’t say anything and kept my head down when I came back in the room. I knew the cat would be out today, because my wallet was in the wrong place this morning. Once back in the classroom, I felt my seat before I sat down. It felt like toast that could melt butter so I sat in the empty seat next to mine. The cool plastic felt good on my behind. Hailey, a girl with long black shiny hair and pretty blue eyes, was staring at me. I adjusted in my seat, withdrew my wallet, and rotated it between my fingers, sneaking looks at her the whole time. She looked scared, the way my mother looked when I hit her, and a furry, fluffy tail began to cloud my vision. I could see the feline’s claws, sharp and hungry. Out loud, I prayed for rain.
Elizabeth Schmuhl is a writer and instructor of English and modern dance. She is a graduate of the University of Michigan and a current MFA in Writing candidate at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work has appeared in The Hopwood Manuscript, Numéro Cinq, Ghost Writers: Us Haunting Them, and elsewhere.
All rights reserved to Elizabeth Schmuhl.