July 18th, 2014


This week's writing group assignment: "Monsoon"

The staccato patter of water woke him. He shifted his head on the sweat-soaked pillow, pointing his bleary eyes towards the window. Only a dim, grey light penetrated the curtains. Could it finally be here? Had he slept through the opening salvos of thunder? His sense of direction, waking more slowly than his hearing, disabused him of the hopeful thought. The sound was coming from the bathroom: Damien in the shower.

Waking had activated his bladder. He separated himself from the damp sheets he had tossed and turned on all night and shuffled out into the back yard to pee. He picked the thirstiest looking tree, a difficult choice, and made his morning donation, looking up at the tantalizingly grey sky as he did so. As it so often did at this time of year, the lyric of a Sting song came to mind: "Heavy cloud, but no rain." He forgot the name of the song or what it was about, but he was pretty sure it wasn't Tucson. One had to live in the desert southwest to fully understand the powerful need of all of its denizens for the healing sustenance of rain after months without. He had spent his first four months here laughing at his friends back home, bragging about temperatures in the 70's and 80's during winter. Then, in May, it started getting really hot, and he developed a growing respect for the plants and creatures that endured here. The last six weeks had been progressively hotter and more humid, belying the "dry heat" cliche so often repeated through the rest of the year. A week ago his swamp cooler had changed from an efficient, economical cooling device to a sweat circulator, doing little more than moving the damp air about.

The shower had stopped when he stepped back inside, and Damien was on the couch, making his other ritual water sound, the bubble of a bong. Doing the "wake 'n' bake" again. Jake had no idea how Damien functioned all day, constantly stoned. Some people simply had that ability, he guessed. Damien flipped back his perfect dreads and started rolling a spliff for later.

"How do you survive it?" Jake asked.

"What, mon?"

"This weather! I am sweating like a pig, my clothes are moldy, I can't sleep through the night."

"It gets easier after your first summer, mon."

"Everybody tells me that. I guess if I make it through this one, I'll find out. What drives me crazy is the daily tease. First the weatherman gives you an arbitrary percentage chance of rain, then the clouds build up over the mountains or Green Valley, then ... nothing. When will the damned rain get here?"

"Soon, mon, soon."