“What’s that sound?” asks my wife, Kadie. She and I lie in the loft of the barn, the wan light of a cloudy dusk making the world a shadow play through the unshuttered hay door on the west side of the barn. We both face that high opening on our sides, cuddled like two spoons, naked skin chilled from the October air that wafts through the drafty old barn. A lingering sheen of sweat from our just-ended lovemaking adds to the chill.
“It’s only rain starting to fall,” I tell her. “It’s loud on the old tin roof.”
“Yeah, Jack, like machine gun loud.”
“There’s a romantic thought.”
“Oh, we’re still being romantic? Well, Mr. Romance, why don’t you make me up a poem.”
“A poem? Well, let’s see…
There once was a girl named Kadie
Who the men all considered no lady,
“No, not a dirty limerick. Make me a nice poem.”
“Okay, give me a minute.” I take a deep breath, smelling traces of her apple blossom shampoo from her morning shower. Kadie’s skin is soft beneath the calloused fingertips of my left hand, perhaps as soft as anything I’ve ever known. It’s been a long while since I’ve touched her like this. I clear my throat, and sort of sing:
“Kadie was a’lyin’ up in the loft
Big storm brewin’ but she’s so soft
like autumn rain.”
“That’s better, but that sounds more like a song.”
“Can’t help it. It’s what I do.” I am something of a songwriter, and in my ten-year professional career I’ve only had one truly meaningful sale. That was to an old Nashville artist whose glory has long faded, but her records still sell to the old folks, and that and my dive bar gigs bring in enough dough for Kadie and me to live on, if we’re frugal. No steak and lobster for us, and our yearly vacations consist of house-sitting at her parents’ farm while they tour Europe.
Kadie occasionally works, but she has, well, issues, and can’t usually hold a steady job. I’d rather she didn’t work anyway, for the times between her black-dog darkness are few these days, and I like to treasure them. This is one of those times.
Earlier we’d found some of her parents’ weed in their kitchen, and we smoked a few joints. Kadie’s not supposed to, but I don’t think it’s so bad for her. Supposed to be medicinal, anyway, they say. After that we fed the animals, and then she wanted to explore the old barn. She said she used to play in the hayloft as a child, so up we climbed. We then played there as well, but as adults. It is the first time we’ve made love in ages.
“Hey, Mr. Troubadour,” she says, “I’ve got an idea. Let’s get out of here.”
“Good idea. It’s cold, and this straw is scratchy.”
I start to search for my clothes, but she stops me. Then, feeling around in the darkness, she finds the ladder and climbs down naked. I follow her. By rote memory she finds her way to the barn doors and shoves them open. Her trim silhouette looks every bit the playful fairy, sans wings, against the fading gray sky outside.
“I wanna play in the rain,” she says.
“Really? But you’ll get all wet.”
“No shit. Come on. It’s only rain.”
I follow her out. The rain is like ice knives on my skin, but Kadie doesn’t seem to care. She raises her arms and whirls about. Calling forth old muscle memory from her childhood ballet lessons, she attempts to stand en pointe barefoot, fails, but pirouettes anyway, then kicks high into the air. She laughs, causing my heart to blossom like a time-lapse rose. I love it so when she laughs.
“Come on, mister, let’s dance.”
She pulls me close, her peach petal skin all gooseflesh now, but still soft as a river. We fall into a makeshift two-step on the wet grass outside the barn. Somewhere in the stock pen one of the goats lets out a bleat, but otherwise the only sound is the staccato beat of the rain.
“Sing me something, Jack,” she says.
“I don’t know, you’re the songwriter. Hey, sing me that sleepy song.”
I think back, trying to recall the one she means.
“When she sleeps
I wonder what she’s dreaming
When she sleeps,
I wonder how her life is seeming
to the happy girl she keeps inside
that she only lets run so far and wide
When she sleeps.”
“That’s the one. I love that song.”
“Well, they didn’t care for it too much in old Nashville.”
“Fuck Nashville. I like it. I like all your songs. Now sing the rest.”
Later, back in the house, Kadie is deep in a catlike slumber beneath an old quilt on the sofa. I’ve opened some wine and gotten out my guitar with a mind to write another song. Sometimes it feels a bit pointless, but I do it because it’s what I have to do, what I must do to live. Kadie gets by, through the good days and the bad. So I will too.
Outside, the rain still falls, peppering the windows with nature’s own drum line. It’ll probably keep me up, but I’m not really sleepy, so it doesn’t bother me all that much. It’s only rain.
I strum a G-chord, and repeat those words out loud. I feel the always euphoric beginnings of a new song coming to me, one of hundreds if not thousands that have come before, all perhaps doomed to fade to obscurity after I’m gone. Right now, I don’t care. For this brief moment, all is right in my world, mine and Kadie’s.
“It’s only rain,” I sing, and the rest of the words come like a torrent of crystal droplets from the night sky. “It’s only rain.”
Christopher Owen lives in Texas with his wife and two cats. His work has appeared at Daily Science Fiction, Every Day Fiction, Mirror Dance, New Myths and other places. He is a graduate of the Odyssey Writing Workshop and the Yale Summer Writers’ Conference. It’s Only Rain is his twenty-sixth piece published by Every Day Fiction.