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The Wet World 

2013 Short Fiction Contest

Life is but a long series of short moments, strung together into a lifetime, and “The Wet World” captures a single snapshot: Two people brought together briefly, under an overpass, to get out of the rain. Francovich’s prose is simple, uncluttered, bordering poetry, and the story is simple yet touching. — Jacob Fries

click to enlarge wetworld.jpg

They met under the old I-5 bridge, the interstate traffic roaring overhead. His hands, calloused, cracked, nicotine stained — desperate. She still had the swagger of a girl used to driving boys mad. Hips gently swaying, even under the bulky, shapeless sweater she’d found out behind St. Vinnie's. The sweater with evergreen trees growing on the side of a mountain.

It was a rainy day. The thunder of the sky pouring down, pooling at their feet, sinking, slowly into the ground.

The cars, hissing by, throwing sheets of water up and over the guardrail, didn’t notice their meeting.

But they did. Up in the corner, where the bridge meets the road, they huddled together. Water dripping around them — but not on them. A dry spot, in a world of wet. Talking.

She pushes hair away from her eyes, to better see him. Both wrecked. Wrecked by all the things in life that wreck a person.

But under that bridge, on that day, it didn’t matter. The rain missed them and they spoke openly. Her kids, two in jail, one pregnant, the other missing.

His wife. Gone. Dead? He doesnt know.

The best places to get lunch.

The sounds of the city church bells ringing.

That time she was jumped — out behind Mike’s — and almost raped, before the cops came and she spent the night in jail instead.

That one really gets him.

Eyes flashing, he feels that thing, that thing he hasn’t felt in a long time. Passion. Warmth.

She has gorgeous eyes. Wide, dark brown. Underneath her right eye, a scratch that curls upward — petering out as it moves toward her temple.

They reach forward — fingertips touching — sharing a cigarette.

That touch is electrifying. Human contact is unusual. When it happens, it’s mostly violence.

Time passes. Their conversation lags, but comfortably. They stare, hunched together, out at the wet world beyond. It’s comfortable in a way nothing has been, not for a long time.

For her: memories of a short but sweet childhood. Her parents, alive and loving, before the death, before the drugs.

For him: his wife. A rotund woman. Caring and motherly. Before the accident. Before he lost control.

And then, the rain is no longer a solid sheet of wet. Slowly, but then quickly, it stops.

She stands up and looks down at him. It’s time. The rain is gone.

Her wet hair artfully plastered along her brow. One single droplet of water, slowly rolling down her face, until she flings it away.

She walks away — east along the road.

His hands clench together in one, quick spasm of pain. And then, he settles back underneath the bridge, watching the world dry out. ♦


About the Author

Eli Francovich lives in Spokane and is currently a senior at Gonzaga University, studying journalism and sociology. He has been previous published in the Inlander and the Current. "The Wet World" is his first piece of published fiction.

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