This week's writing prompt from Write on Edge is: a 400-word fiction or creative non-fiction piece influenced by the idea of RAIN.
When Richard woke, it was still dark. After untangling himself from his mosquito net, he threw on his robe and slid into loafers. Grabbing a flashlight, he rushed through the rain to the outhouse. His hopes for a modern bathroom at the pensão had been dashed the previous night when the other volunteer had delivered him to the boarding house at his Peace Corps site. The side-by-side stalls in the privy were crawling with roaches.
Holding his cramped stomach, he returned to his room, glad that his vomiting had finally stopped. Despite being only ten degrees from the equator, he donned socks and pulled a sweatshirt over his cotton pajamas. Wriggling into bed, he wondered why he had expected a real mattress. What he got was a huge cotton sack stuffed with straw. Eventually, he fell asleep again.
When he woke, he heard splashing raindrops. He shoved the mosquito net aside to discover water dripping from the red-tiled roof into his right loafer and dancing onto the mud-brick floor.
Outside his door a female voice said, “Seu Ricardo?”
“May I come in?”
A dark, homely teenager dressed in a faded green shift tiptoed into the room. With her eyes lowered to the foot of Richard’s bed, she asked, “Seu Ricardo, my mother wants to know if you want breakfast?”
“Não, I do not have hunger.”
“Will you have lunch here?” the girl asked, pulling at her kinky hair, never meeting his eyes.
Not sure if he would ever want to eat again, he said, “I want sleep.”
The girl shuffled toward the door in her plastic sandals.
“Wait,” Richard said. He couldn’t remember the Portuguese word for rain. “The, uh, water comes from the, ah....” He pointed to the tiled roof, then to his overflowing shoe. The girl’s broad face looked like a blank brown canvas. Again he pointed to the roof and the shoe.
Bending at the waist, the girl pulled a chamber pot from under the extra bed, removed the lid, and placed the enameled pot under the leak. She emptied his shoe into it, then quietly moved to the hall, closing the door behind her.
At first Richard thought the girl had believed him to be an idiot because he couldn’t remember the words for rain or ceiling. Then he decided she thought he had foolishly placed the shoe there to catch the water.
He curled up in a ball, wondering what in the hell he had gotten himself into.
This story is a slightly-revised excerpt from CJ's in-progress novel: A Little Slice of Heaven. The story takes place in a fictional, Portuguese-speaking country, in a small town much like the one where CJ spent two years as a Peace Corps Volunteer. Richard, at first, decides he will stay for a few days, then find an appropriate opportunity to resign and head home. Eventually, he is drawn in by the culture, and especially the warm, outgoing citizens, but there are still a multitude of obstacles to overcome in this foreign land.
Read the author's non-fiction stories about her experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Brazil on her other blog: A Little "Peace" of Brazil