Stories written after hearing Rocky Votolato’s Makers
White Daisy Passing
A grey-haired dog with a drooping mouth looks out on the dry yard where dust spins itself into swirling balls. His head rests on the windowsill. His nose presses against the pane and his slow breaths fog the glass. His eyes stay still, fixed on a single point. The wind that pushes the dust also shakes the leaves on the tree beside the window. The branches sway like waves.
The wind throws small rocks gently into the window that startle the dog away, leaving his breath to hang suspended. He jumps back and paces back and forth. He hears her voice.
Portland is Leaving
She wears a sheer tan dress. Her thin legs shine through from underneath where the ghost of her underdress doesn’t cover. She stands with her back to a broken mirror. A circle from an impact is punched into it. Her body is broken and warped at the center in the eight circular cracks create a broken oval, each fragment reflecting sections of the house with a static clarity.
Her hair rests over the front of her shoulder and her bare shoulder shines next to the straps of her dress. In front of her sit a pile of bunched and wrinkled clothes.
The Night’s Disguise
She stands on the porch as the snow falls around her. He plays in the snow, jumping, turning, panting, rolling over, and barking. The snow lands at her feet and steams. Her head hangs down and her hands loosely rest on her waist and neck. The sky is so densely packed it sits dull. She stands on the porch until the snow piles on her shoulder and she shivers. Her hands pink and purple from the cold, she opens the door.
The dog’s paw catches it before it closes and he wines at her while they walk back to the bedroom.
She Was Only in It For The Rain
She walks along a river holding flowers in her hand. Their colors are so bright the petals look bleached in the sunlight. The sun hangs thick and pushes through the trees surrounding her. Some of the flowers are falling out of the clamped bundle of stems. Some of them land on the rocks beside her feet, and some of the petals fall with the wind and land on the water and float down the stream.
She throws the handful into the water and steps through and between fallen branches on her walk down the stream. In the distance the water trickles.
Uppers Aren’t Necessary
Marshland birds with rod legs dipping their heads into the water. When they shoot their beaks into the water, the water ripples and drips from spots on their feathers. Her toes rap on the edge of the bank. The frothy water curls up on her feet. She sinks into the dark sand. Green grass tufts create archipelagos spread over the water. The water sits like an endless nothing.
As a car passes on the road behind her, the birds explode away. The water drips from their legs and the tips of their wings as they fly away in a colorless mass.
Wait Out The Days
The dog sleeps on his pillow by the window next to the front door. He coos a howl in each breath. Through the window a deck and a small weeded over grass patch sit untouched except for the wind. The branches of the tree in front of the house groan and snap, the quick sound of rope creaking. The sound does not wake him. He stays in the rhythm of his breaths.
Outside, she walks toward the house. The wind sweeping across the yard flares the bottom edge of her dress and frays her hair. The sun glistens her drying legs.
She turns and looks back and smiles at the trail of upturned rocks behind her. The harsh sounds from her feet on the rocks echoes around her. With each step toward the end of the water line where the rocks end and meet the bark, she jumps toward the bark and grass. The rocks shoot out from behind her feet. She falls, but catches herself before tumbling into the shallow water. Her reflection tenses her body. The person looking back is not herself. She swipes the water and smears the face, a melt of colors shaking between each outward moving ring.
Tennessee Train Tracks
As she walks away from the water she flicks the droplets running from her hand. The flowers in her other hand are broken and snapped at the stems or flattened by her body from the fall.
She hears her feet crunch gravel beneath her and she looks down. As she passes cars she doesn’t look different in the reflections. She lifts her hands and sees eight fingers and looks down and sees five. She brings her hand back up and sees five fingers. She walks away shaking her head and doesn’t hear the gravel crunch change to the swish of grass.
She window-shops and sees her reflection outlined in the window. Her shoulders puddle and ripple like watercolor. Through the window, she sees her body on the birdcages and potpourri on the display.
At her eyes is the sparkle of a brooch on the shoulder of a woman standing inside. Her reflection winks. Trees in the shop emit different colors in a swirling mix of colored light and collect together under the yellow-orange tinge of the shop’s lights.
The woman inside the shop watches her standing at the window through the glass, picking apart her looks. She doesn’t see the shined glint.
The dog stands watching her from the side of the bed as she lies down and covers herself with the blankets. Strands of her hair dangle off the bed. He rests his head on the strands and whines. He whines again. He whines until she lifts the covers to look at him, and he jumps up and curls into her. He licks below her eye and sees the brightness flicker in her eye. He doesn’t try to bring it out. The wetness from his tongue dries quickly from the heat. The snow brushes the window. They sleep. His breaths match hers.
Where We Left Off
He stretches out in the hall and yawns. His foot rests on a pile of clothes that riprap into the bathroom. She stretches out in the bathtub, her knees barely breaking the surface. Her bare legs sit still underneath. Daylight beams from the window above. She holds her eyes closed. When she opens her eyes her legs are tripled, moving together underneath the surface of the water. She makes a guttural sound with her throat. He jumps up and runs to her. She clouds the water with a jerk. He stands close to her, looking at her face and the water.
He sits in front of the broken mirror watching her slowly dressing at the end of the bed. His leg is warped in the center of the mirror. The dark patches of fur mix and swirl and are broken up in the remaining pieces. Parts of him are gone in the broken lines.
In reverse, she gets up and walks down the hall. Snow on the windows creates dense patterns on the walls. They looked like constellations, the contrasting colors formed textures. He whines and follows her. He disappears, reflecting only the ceiling and snow along the top of the window.