The steady drumming of the rain on the roof threatened to lull me into a sense of melancholy. Nothing is more dangerous than a melancholy writer sitting in front of a blank page. Rain has been responsible for some of the worst prose on the planet. One minute you’re perched in front of your screen hell bent on giving the world a taste of your acerbic wit and the next you’re calling stories “prose.”
Luckily a small raindrop clinging to the window ledge caught my eye. While all around it there was gratuitous dripping and streaking going on, this little devil just clung. Slowly getting larger but obviously not getting enough water to force gravity into making it plunge off the window to join its damp comrades on the roof on the way to the water spout and then, eventually I guess, the ocean.
Damn that melancholy. I can feel its influence even now. Just look at that sentence. A Manion not caught in its melancolyish embrace would never have let his apparently-not-as-acerbic-as-imagined imagination wander like that.
Watching it grow I noticed a little white dot in its center. Obviously some side effect of refraction or some other scientific tomfoolery. As I watched it get larger the white dot took on the shape of a white square and then a tiny white TV screen.
And then I saw the little girl from Poltergeist sitting in front of the little white dot with her hands pressed against it.
For those of you young enough not to remember Poltergeist, or too old to remember much of anything outside of reading your daily Lance Manion prose (“stories” for those of you in a non-raining locale), or even too cultured to have watched a bad horror movie back in 1982, the movie had a scene where a little girl was able to communicate with the dead through her television set. Or at least I think that was the premise.
Suddenly there was a somebody with their hands pressed against the TV screen in the raindrop but it wasn’t the little girl anymore.
It was me.
Slowly the raindrop gathered up some surrounding H2O and continued to expand. It threatened to get too big and drip away.
I stared more intently at it. I committed to the endeavor.
You know what I mean. There are times that you are doing something either too dumb or too embarrassing to let go and get into it for fear of someone seeing you. Like flying. Like when you take the garbage out and, convinced nobody is looking out their window at you from next door, you take a few running steps and try to fly.
I’m not going to tell you about my flying incident for fear you won’t believe me or, even worse, try it yourself. The last thing I need is a sky cluttered up with committed people.
Anyway, I stared at myself staring at the TV and tried to make out what was going on in the static behind my hands.
Then I saw it.
The drip shook a little. It was getting close to falling. It shimmied from side to side and instead of looking like a hammock it began to look like a drop of honey getting all thin at the top and fat at the bottom.
The TV was a telescope, some scientific voodoo or other, but instead of peering into the house across the street, upside down of course, I was looking into a room from my past.
My old living room from when I was a kid.
Don’t believe me? Reach back into your past when you used to have an open mind. Just try to use that for the next couple of sentences.
I did, so it’s the least you can do.
So I’m watching the TV and my mom walks in. She’s telling me to turn it off. I tell her “The TV is a wonderful light. As bright as the sun but it doesn’t hurt to look into it. All the answers to all the questions you want to know are inside that light. And when you watch it… you become a part of it forever.”
She tells me that my room is a mess.
“This house is clean.”
And then the raindrop let go … I felt the freefall, I was inside it for a fraction of a second but I jerked back into my own head just before it hit the roof. I wondered if I’d made a conscious choice. If I might have instead stayed with the raindrop as it departed and left my body sitting in the chair for police to find some days later.
We could have started our long journey to the sea.