After the Rains

It wasn’t actually funny, but she smirked to herself anyways. There she was literally waiting for the other shoe to drop. The pair of kicks had hung on that wire for over 3 years. She had noticed them first in a photo. It was in that snapshot from the day they moved in. The porch was covered in boxes. Her hair was pulled back carelessly in a bandana. She looked happy. He certainly did. They were not dealing with their shit yet, so in an artificial way, they probably were happy. She couldn’t remember who took the picture, but the shoes were already there. She thought about them sometimes when a stranger knocked. She had always heard that shoes on a wire like that signified that the occupants of the house sold drugs. Maybe this shady-looking individual peering in the door wanted pot? Meth? It made her paranoid to open the door. Even for Girl Scout cookies. A handy excuse for one of her many psychoses.

But the overhand knot and cotton laces were no match for the rains. And it had been raining for the past few months in a way that SoCal was not known for. The shoes gracefully handled the other harsh realities of paradise — peaceful ocean breezes, balmy 70 degree days, moonlit nights. They had even lasted through a little earthquake — the one that shook the house and made it so the pantry door never shut quite right again. He was still living there then, so he spent hours leveling and shimming and trimming to try to make it fit. But he was a shitty carpenter, and all that came from that endeavor was a too-short pantry door that still didn’t close.

But the rain eventually won, and the first soggy shoe fell. How lucky she was, she thought, that she had been standing at her door when it hit the pavement. What are the odds? As soon as it dropped, she had run outside to view the scene more clearly. There was no visible reason for the other shoe to still be hanging there, it did. The laces must have fused to the wires and caused some sort of bond. There was no way it could last. Things that are that busted cannot just stay stuck forever. She thought it would fall immediately, but it hung on. And on.

Her phone alarm went off.

The sound brought her back to reality. Fuck. She was running late. She hustled inside, the screen door slamming shut behind her.

She actually made it to the bus on time, so she wasn’t late to work. Her job as a hostess was her favorite she had had in a while. She was overqualified, but that made her feel like she wasn’t completely incompetent at everything she touched. Maybe she wasn’t as dumb as he had told her.

She had recently learned that other people’s expectations of you — even if they don’t say them out loud — have a profound effect on what you can accomplish. That the way they touch you and talk to you effects how well you actually do. Like if your coach thought you couldn’t do something, it would make it that much harder to do it. Their belief or disbelief changed what was possible for you. Apparently you could accomplish impossible things if people around you assumed that you could. It was more than just some hippy shit. For her, maybe being really fucking good at being a hostess meant she could become something else. Instead of just being caught in a cycle of hatred of herself and everyone around her. She was sick of hating everyone.

She hated the rain. He had walked out the door in the rain. Slamming the screen door on the way out. Good riddance, she said as she cried her eyes out. He had gotten in one last jab on the way out.

“You will never amount to anything.”

She believed him. She had lost her waitressing job later that week, just to prove him right. Eyes too swollen and red to take orders. Too high to remember to show up. Too defined by him to be anything when he was gone. Too him to be her. But you fill the container you are given, and without him there, she found she had room to grow.

She treated herself to a cab ride home. Happily exhausted from her day. She had forgotten about the shoe debacle in the energy of the day. So when the driver pulled up to the curb, she was surprised, but there it was. As pink and moldy as the first, sitting on the sidewalk. Defined as a pair, but no longer joined as one.

Nothing lasts, nothing is sacred.

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