Ame Onna by Emily Suvannasankha

Violet’s father blamed the “damn meteorologists” who “couldn’t predict a snowstorm in Canada” for Pumpkin’s drowning in a sudden downpour three years ago. Presently, as Violet stirred a mug of hot chocolate, slumped in a beanbag chair by the window in her room, the memory haunted her. Her knuckles clenched against the warm ceramic as she remembered how the flood had swept Pumpkin’s fluffy little body down the street, his barks mangled by sewer water, as if it was happening all over again.

Her breath caught in her throat. This morning—this morning—go back to this morning, Violet commanded herself before she got carried away. In her experience, nothing dragged her thoughts back to the present quite like the echoes of her mother’s six A.M. moaning.

Every morning, over pancakes and orange juice, Violet’s mother cursed the “rainy season” for ruining her garden, and after enduring years of this, every word about gardening made Violet want to vomit. One more mention of “perennials” and she was going to do something drastic. Her mom’s bookcase housed titles like Aquatic Plants for DummiesGardening in Moist Soil, and Overwatering: Too Much of a Good Thing. Honestly. As if she needed more reminders.

And it wasn’t a season. It had never been a season.

Now sufficiently exasperated, Violet kicked her feet up against her desk chair. Outside her ear buds, she heard a boom of faraway thunder, and she cranked up the music.

I’m sorry, she thought to her empty room, hoping it reached the kindergarteners who had soccer games today, the couples who’d planned picnics today, the businessmen who were already late to their meetings and now had to avoid puddles and lightning, rain soiling their important documents—not to mention their trousers. They were innocent; they would never know it was all her fault.

Violet’s phone vibrated in her front pocket. Swearing, she hovered her thumb over the pause button on her MP3 for a moment before reluctantly cutting the music and yanking her ear buds out.

“Hello?” Violet answered, hand pressing hard over her other ear.

“Oh, honey bear, oh, my sweet little Violet bunny, hello! How was your last day at school?” her grandmother gushed through the speaker. While the woman went through her litany of pet names, Violet tried to suck up hot chocolate with just her lips. She ended up choking instead.

“Fine—augck! Yeah. It was fine,” Violet coughed. It was a lie; she hadn’t told anyone she was leaving, because no one would have cared. On Monday, she could say with 100% certainty that not one seventh grader at Sunny Oak Middle School would so much as remember her name. They’d notice her empty desk and whisper, “Didn’t someone used to sit there?”, “What’s with the extra desk?”, and “Who’s absent today?” Maybe the kid who borrowed her pencil and never gave it back would remember. But probably not. He’d just keep scratching out those pre-algebra problems with her pencil until the nib broke or it exploded or something.

In any case, she hoped the thing crapped out soon.

Her grandma was now rehashing the same suburban follies Violet must have had memorized by now, and out of guilt, she tuned back in. People didn’t live forever, she supposed.

“And—oh, dearie, did your mother tell you? Professors from the university are coming to city hall to study the change in climate here! Goodness, you should hear the church ladies. Everyone’s tittering behind the pews about the ‘rain men’ and how they might finally get Beutraville back to normal. And it’s about time! Of course, you’ll be gone by then, but I’ll keep you updated—”

“Sorry, Grandma, I have to go. Homework.” Thunder cracked loud and close, and Violet’s hands trembled on either side of her head.

“But…sweetie, today was your last—”

“I know. I’m, uh, mailing it in. Bye.” Violet hung up, skittered the phone under her bed, and slammed her ear buds back in as quickly as she could. The fluster of guitar, violin, and piano blared her grandma’s words out of her mind, and she sighed with relief, grabbed her hot chocolate, and gulped it down. It was more like chocolate milk now.

In her peripheral vision, a yellow cover gleamed: her sketchbook. Violet pictured its very last page, the doodle she’d drawn in science class on the first day of school. Suddenly overcome with nostalgia, she hoisted off the red beanbag, braced herself, and faced the window. Familiar darkness stared through the panes, lit only by zigzags of lightning in the distance. Violet skimmed the middle rail, feeling the vibrations beneath her fingertips as raindrops battered against the glass like bullets. She drew closer, watching one droplet collide with another, and another, and finally slip off into the black flooded garden below.

For old time’s sake, she touched her left index finger to the windowpane and traced a thick outline in the condensation, a preschooler’s version of the Last Page. When she was done, a thin bead of water ran down her finger, and she wiped it on her shirt.

As the rain washed away memories of her home, her school, and her town, Violet watched the foggy outlines drip, corner by corner, into warped nothing. Two stick figures, a doll, and a sun in the corner. Gone.

She fell back into her beanbag and eyed her walls full of posters, dreading the packing she’d shamelessly procrastinated. Tomorrow, they were moving from Pennsylvania to Nevada, the driest state in America. Her parents claimed it was for work, but Violet knew better.

And she also knew it wouldn’t make a difference.

The rain broke through her music, as it had since the day she was born.

————————–

Note: Ame onna is Japanese for “rain woman,” originally the name of a spirit who brought rain to crops. Now, it commonly refers to an unlucky person who attracts poor weather wherever she goes.

In summary, don’t invite Violet to your wedding.

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One thought on “Ame Onna by Emily Suvannasankha

  1. Hello! I greatly enjoyed participating in this contest. It was a lovely learning experience.

    “Ame Onna” is actually a longer piece, and this is just the beginning. Violet grows up into a very interesting person with quite the rebellious streak — as if you couldn’t already predict that from her tender adolescent sass here. 😉

    Here is my Facebook page if you would like to contact me: https://www.facebook.com/ailuromancie.

    Like

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