ee cummings by Dana Loberg

Spinach and Rain

by Diane Payne

“Quit staring at her, Lou. Just say something.”

“I’m not staring, Rob.”

Rob rolls his eyes.

“It’s that obvious?” Lou knows the answer, knows he’s been staring.

“Just speak, man. You can do it. Look at her. She’s half plastered already. She won’t care what you say. “

“Why do I come to these parties?”

“Not this again. Grab another beer. Cheer up. Get back in the game, man. Rachel’s waiting for me outside. We’re taking off to another party. Speak to her. It’s simple. Open mouth. Speak. I want to hear about everything tomorrow. Full report.”

What the hell? Get back in the game. Lou inches closer and notices her lips are stained by wine, her teeth a purplish blue. He fixates on the discoloration.

She smiles encouraging. Something green is stuck in her front teeth. Probably spinach. Lou remembers watching her dipping crackers into the spinach dip, one after another after another until the entire dip disappeared. Then the wine.

Refill after refill. Initially, he thought, Wow, there’s a girl with gusto. Gusto. Weird word.

“What a change in the weather,” he says to no one in particular. It seems as if Lou is talking to himself.

She hears him and laughs.

It’s as if she is laughing at a private joke. Or at Lou.

“No one thought we’d ever get rain. Ever.” Lou is determined.

She looks at him and nods her head. “Maybe not ever. But it was feeling like an eternity.”

“Right. Exactly.” She understands him.

“No El Niño. No La Niña. Nada. No logical explanation for the rain. That’s what makes this rain so incredible. It came despite the odds.”

Her lips look creased in purple. There are nuts wedged between her teeth. Lou
wonders how he missed the nuts earlier.

She notices him staring and wipes her tongue over her teeth. Food always sticks in her teeth. He watches her free a nut. She swallows it.

Gusto.
“Everything seems to be returning to life,” she says. “I was getting so depressed looking at the wilted plants. The dogs and I could hardly stand walking in this oppressive heat. But now. Now, everything has changed. We walked in the rain for an hour this morning. It was invigorating.”

Lou thinks about how he watched the rain sitting on his front porch. Dry. Coffee mug in his hand. But not this woman. She probably ran outside, dogs eagerly following. Lips stained by coffee, bagel sticking from teeth. No time for brushing teeth.

A burst of strong lightening flashes through the house, knocking out the power. Then the thunder. Another round of rain.

Just when everyone thought the unexpected rain had ended, the rain returns.

She grabs Lou’s hand. “I like spinach in my teeth. Unexpected rain. Simplicity.”

“I understand.”

And for once, he does understand.