by Ely Percy
The storm is over now: no howling wind, no growling thunder; it’s all been whittled down to one tiny solitary dreg of moisture that’s poised against the windowpane like a dagger. And Kim, she stares out into the street, but she can’t see anything except the thick black smear of night. And everything outside is graveyard silent, and she can’t hear anything except the booming of her own pulse.
She turns away again and presses her pen down onto her journal. I think … no, I feel … no, I need…
‘Oh, fuck this!’
She draws a purple slash across the page: across the latest draft of the story that she’s just spent all afternoon on.
The ink bubbles, and she lets her pen slide from her hand, down onto the table. She takes a slow deep breath. ‘It’s for the best,’ her brain tells her, ‘it’s what you both wanted.’
Kim wonders what Leah is doing right now. Is she pouring her heart out into her diary too? Or is she blocking her thoughts with a glut of soaps or some wishy-washy true-life movie? She wonders if she’s cried at all. Or if she’s even told people what’s happened.
Flashback to the night the two of them stood kissing, furiously, in the rain, in the middle of George Square. Their clothes were stuck to them like second skins, water dripping down their necks and into their armpits; and their shoes were like paddling pools. The only time they came up for air was when a crowd of drink-fuelled revellers began shouting at them to get a room.
She could remember how she nearly soaked Leah earlier that evening in the club: how she nearly poured two drinks down her back when she was caught off guard with that first kiss.
And she could remember the taxi ride home: the rush of excitement, the pure heady feeling that she got just from holding this girl’s hand; and the ebb and flow of what if’s as her stomach lurched and tumbled and she realised that they’d crossed a line in their friendship, and there was no going back.
Months later, she would lie awake and listen to the rain on nights when Leah wasn’t sharing her bed. Some afternoons too, when her windows were all misted up; and she would think about her girlfriend, and she would touch herself.
She thought about how wet Leah made her that first time when they went to bed together; and how she cried when she came, and how Leah held her shaking body and asked her over and over again what was wrong.
Kim would’ve loved them to have made rainy-day love. Thinking about it makes her smile. They never got the chance though. Because Leah didn’t like to do it when it wasn’t dark because she said she didn’t like anyone seeing her body naked.
Kim loved everything about Leah’s body though: she loved every dip and dimple in her flesh, especially the rippling stretch marks on her thighs – she thought they looked like lines of fine silver embroidery, only more beautiful.
But it was hard sometimes. The frustration she felt. Because no matter how many times she told Leah how gorgeous she was, there would always be a stinging retort.
And then a torrent of arguments would follow, which always left them both drained and miserable.
Kim thought back to that first night she made Leah cry: they were standing in Leah’s kitchen having one of their usual makeup-breakup sessions when the tears suddenly exploded. She had never seen anyone so upset before. And she felt so helpless. ‘Don’t…’ she wanted to say. ‘Please don’t...’ But the words were frozen inside her.
It was raining on Friday when Leah told her it was over. Kim had been soaked three times already that day: at home in the shower, outside in the street, and then inside the swimming baths where she’d gone to think through what it was that she wanted from their relationship.
She told her by email.
Kim could hardly read past the third line because the words had become a total blur.
She spat back a reply, telling Leah that it was fine by her. And that she never wanted to see her again.
And that was that.
Kim shivers and wrings her hands. Then she turns and looks out into the street again; out into nothing and the dark shadows of nearby trees. She sighs, and there is a clap of thunder, and then the heavens open again.
About the author
Ely Percy’s first publication was a letter-cum-poem in Big! magazine in 1993. Since then, they’ve released a memoir (Cracked: Recovering After Traumatic Brain Injury, 2002), graduated with distinction from Glasgow University’s MPhil in Creative Writing (2004) and contributed over fifty short stories to several literary journals (e.g. New Writing Scotland, Scotsman Orange, Edinburgh Review); they’ve been a writer-in-residence in a prison, a community librarian in an LGBT centre, and the facilitator of a ‘pilot’ therapeutic writing class for adults with mental health difficulties which ran for three years. Their debut novel ‘Vicky Romeo Plus Joolz’ was published in March, 2019