My new short story, “Waiting for the Rain to Fall,” was published recently on Swamp Biscuits and Tea, a quirky online fiction journal. The full story is now available on the Swamp Biscuits website (or check out the excerpt at the end of this post).
In Portland, Oregon, the rain falls for a long time during the winter. (If you’ve never lived there, you probably have no idea what I mean.)
One day, usually in October, after an amazingly beautiful summer, the rain starts to fall. The next day, it’s still falling. And the day after that, and so on.
For a few weeks, you cling to the memory of summer, but in time the glint of sunlight on the river is washed away under the steady fall of raindrops.
Winter in Portland is almost like sinking into a long dream. The rain blurs the edges of the world, erasing the exactness that exists when the sun is shining brightly.
Not everything about the rain in Portland is dismal, though. The constant moisture keeps Portland green throughout the winter, a colorful buffer against the winter blues (and more effective than the coffee shops and cocktail bars).
“A man will continue telling stories until there is nothing left to say.”
The dreamy nature of winter is also highly conducive to reading and writing (check out Powell’s New and Used Bookstore if you ever visit). When the clouds move in and the skies open up, there’s a strong urge to curl up next to a roaring fire with a good story (and a foamy chai latte). Even better, winter in Portland is the best time to restore your soul by escaping into the borderlands between reality and fiction.
My new short story, “Waiting for the Rain to Fall,” thrives in this dreamy in-between world (“not quite here, not quite now,” as Swamp Biscuits and Tea puts it), nurtured by the cool Portland rain and transformed from a dry kernel of an idea into a lushly meandering tale.
On its surface, “Waiting for the Rain to Fall” is a continuation of a discussion between science and fiction, reality and mythology. At the heart of this short story, though, are more stories. It is a tale neatly tucked in on itself like a snake hibernating throughout the rainy winter. As the story unfolds, it “tells of a man whose father’s stories may offer more truth than he ever realized.”
Waiting for the Rain to Fall
by Shawn Radcliffe
Word of my father’s dying reaches me even here, in the middle of the river. To the east, a single mountain towers above the earth, watching me with gray eyes. A fine mist shrouds its snow-covered peak, and a ring of thicker clouds obscures the sawtooth rocks below. Standing here, alone in the river, I feel the mountain gnawing at me with its icy teeth—the runoff still flowing strong, even now toward the end of autumn. In spite of the fresh resin on the seams of my waders, I feel the mountain’s chilly bite in my legs.
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