“Rainpainting”

The summer we lived with Dad, there was a neighbor whose voice we never heard. We’d see him walking through the woods, fingers brushing the bark of trees. Or rustling the leaves of bushes, collecting berries in a paper sack. Sometime he crouched in the creek bed and picked red pebbles from the cool water.

He moved slow. Always quiet. And often stopped as if listening to things we couldn’t hear, like roots growing deep beneath him. The crack of a bird’s egg in a high-up nest.

Once we drove by him on the gravel road near our house. He stepped into the ditch and waited for us to pass. Dad raised two fingers from the steering wheel and the man lifted his hand to his forehead. Waving hello or shading his eyes from the sun, we couldn’t tell.

“The Rainpainter,” Dad said, watching the rearview mirror.

When we asked what he meant, he told us to wait.

We stayed up late that night making up stories. The Rainpainter standing beneath a heavy sky, wetting his brush with storm water. Slashing at a canvas until something evil took shape. We listened with our ears pressed against the window for some promise of rain to break loose from the sky, some spark to waken the dark world. And if it had, we’d have been afraid to open our eyes, afraid the stories we told were true.

The next morning, he walked past our house carrying a stack of folded sheets.

“What’s he doing?” we said.

“Getting ready for the rain,” Dad said.

Dad had been checking the weather every night after calling Mom behind a closed door. We’d lie on the floor outside his room and listen as he begged Mom for just a few more days.

When the storm came, Dad called in sick to work. With the first tinks of rain on the roof, he told us to hurry.

We followed him through woods that were thick with the smell of rain. The air had cooled. We reached out our hands and felt the trees’ bark as we ran.

We didn’t understand when Dad stopped and pointed to the canopy of the woods.

“Sheets,” he said.

We ran in circles beneath sheets that were hung between branches so high above us. Our arms outstretched, palms catching all different colors. The strange rain dripped from our hair and down our faces. Reds and blues and purples. We opened our mouths and tasted it.

And we understood.

Some sheets were heavy with the weight of picked berries. Others colored with dye made from the dust of crushed creek pebbles.

When the rain lightened, our clothes were stained. Our tongues and teeth carnival-colored. We were laughing. Dad stood far away, watching silently.

The next morning we slipped back into the stained clothes we had begged him not to wash. And when Mom picked us up she shook her head.

“Couldn’t even keep them clean,” she said, before taking us away forever.

Related Posts
Filter by
Post Page
The Story Behind the Story Featured Fiction New Fiction
Sort by

The Story Behind the Story: “Rainpainting”

Half a mile from my family’s home in the Appalachians of Southeast Tennessee, there is a woman who ties window f
2017-05-29 21:22:42
asiegrist

10

“Fly Season”

In a room without furniture, the flies have nowhere to land. They flit from wall to wall, winged dirt, smearing the
2019-08-16 23:38:07
eerbeznik

0

“Lowlands”

Alan asked me to meet him halfway between Brussels and Paris, at a restaurant around the
2019-08-09 23:36:34
rciresi

0

“Baby Lanes”

“Excuse me. I’m over here in the lane next to you and noticed you’re bowling very well tonight.” “That’s quite
2019-08-07 09:34:00
ctank08

0

“The Undead”

Ryan said that he needed to call his girlfriend, and I wandered back to the living room and dropped into the
2019-08-05 11:05:12
wbwalker

0

“160”

Not many people knew what I knew about my brother and his wife. I knew it all. The booze, the opioids, the
2019-08-02 23:35:47
mwcox

0

“Nebraska”

In 2014 tornadoes swept across the northeast corner of Nebraska, destroying the small town of Pilger. Families stood
2019-07-25 12:37:33
rlittell

0

“Joan Ponders Spit”

It was Christmas day, so Joan was bored. Her children had already opened their presents. Her daughter had cried
2019-07-22 11:10:52
kikadorsey

0

“Margaret Atwood in Paradise”

In paradise, they are forever putting on makeup and sweating out of it. You can tell time by the number of times
2019-07-17 10:44:12
amy-stuber

0

“The Funkmeister”

If you happen to meet my co-worker Maxwell Benz—unlikely—and the conversation turns to music, be prepared for your op
2019-06-26 09:34:49
tcb

0

About Andrew Siegrist

Andrew Siegrist is currently a graduate student at the University of New Orleans. His work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in Pembroke Magazine, Greensboro Review, and Revolution John Magazine. He is from Tennessee.