Delmarva Review: I Hate Rain by Faith Lord

I hate rain! I hate wet smelly dogs that bite at my heels. I hate soggy garbage that lingers in the broken sidewalks. I hate those with cars who splash dirty gutter water onto people who must wait in the rain at the crosswalk until the light turns green. I hate Mr. Brittingham’s grayed-white tee shirt that flies from the second story clothesline like a forgotten flag, and I really hate 8th grade.

“Good morning class,” says Sister as she enters the room. “Good morning Sis-ter Lor-et-ta.” I join the regurgitation as my hands fold and my body moves into its straight-back position as instinctively as I breathe–Gosh, Sister is so beautiful!

I close my eyes and envision myself painting Sister Loretta’s lips with Hazel Bishop’s red fire. I also give her softly curled shoulder-length hair; it looks best flung to one side. I spit on the dry black cake in the little red mascara case, Maybelline of course, and douse the small brush in the paste. I use it to darken the lashes around Sister’s almond shaped eyes– Sister has the straightest back, even for a nun. Her tiny waist and big breasts refuse to hide under the heavy black-wool habit, a habit designed to reveal only an angelic face and hands ready to work for the Lord—I know a Marilyn Monroe silver-lame’ gown: She’s too beautiful to be a nun.

Oh God, I don’t want to be a nun. Father Mathias says if God calls me, I must submit or He will make my life miserable. I don’t want to believe Father, and I pray to God every day reminding Him that I would make one lousy nun.

It’s 10 a.m. and Sister breaks the silence of the seventy-two soldier-backed kids. They sit as ordered: hands locked in a tight embrace and feet nailed firmly to the floor. “All the girls form a paired line in the center aisle,” says Sister. “Mrs. Jenson is here to help you pick the graduation dresses.” I don’t know why all of our dresses have to be exactly alike. Brenda, Mildred, and Lois like the blue one. It’s sprinkled with those stiff white-velvet flowers. I hate it! It has a place for breasts–I don’t have breasts. I wish I had a safety pin to fix my sash. I always tie it too tight and it rips out at the seam–I want a waist like Sister’s—Brenda has a waist. I don’t have breasts for the blue dress and I don’t have a waist either.

I hate rain! Why does it have to rain? It washes away the glue that I use to hold the soles to my shoes and gushes up my newspaper inner-soles. I hate girls that huddle and whisper; they think it’s funny that my soles flop and slosh when I walk-my hair looks like Miss Elsie’s cat after Bobby Lewis dunks it in the hole in the alley. I hate rain.

I like watching Sister. It seems she has no feet. Her long black habit stops just short of the floor. The habit lifts slightly toward the back as Sister floats from one side of the room to the other. Her slender porcelain hands support the chalk that leaves behind a perfect example of the Palmer method of writing. My ink-stained hands and face gives evidence of my losing battle with my pen; I hope Sister forgets to hang up our papers today.

It’s lunchtime. We eat at our desk. There is room for two but no on wants to be my partner—I don’t have a paid lunch box. I open my grocery-size brown bag containing a baked-bean sandwich and a homemade cookie, wrapped in wax paper. Sister Mary Elizabeth pushes the candy and juice cart into our classroom. The girls with plaid lunch boxes buy Three Musketeers and orange juice in little bottles. Those of with baked-bean sandwiches in brown bags quench our thirst at the water fountain; I wish Sister Mary Elizabeth would move her cart. I need to see if anything is being dropped into the Poor Box, I hate kids who don’t eat their lunch. The cold bean sandwich sticks in my throat as I think about the afternoon reading lesson.

Its one o’clock, “Mary Nicholls, stand and read paragraph three,” says Sister. Why must we stand and read? I’m sure my mouth would obey my brain if I could sit instead and I could use a piece of paper to help me separate the words and lines. Oh God, oh God, my words are spilling out like a laundry bag full of dirty socks-nothing making sense. I hate kids who giggle.

It’s that time again, ten of three. God, be merciful and let me die now! Even with my eyes closed I can smell the unwanted lunches being dumped into the big brown paper-bag by the smartest boy in the class, David Roberts. He gives the bag to Sister Loretta. I feel sick—I hate kids who don’t eat their lunch. God, can I at least faint? “Mary Nicholls,” Sister calls, as I knew she would. It’s a hundred miles to the front of the classroom. I feel the piercing eyes of all seventy-two kids and the whispers of Brenda, Mildred, and Lois. As though I am naked, I stand before the class as Sister hands me the Poor Box. She has a soft smile; she asks about my mother, sends her love to my sisters and brother, and reminds me that God loves me. I hate kids who whisper, I hate kids who don’t eat their lunch, and I hate rain!  I want to hate sister but it’s not allowed-God forgive her she knows not what she does.

The Spy is pleased to reproduce the following from The Delmarva Review, 2014, as part of our partnership with the Eastern Shore Writers Association Education Foundation. with permission from the Review and the author, Faith Lord. The Review, website, is a literary journal published by the Eastern Shore Writers Association’s Education Foundation. 

Faith Lord has written for newspapers in Ocean City, MD in the 90’s, and she self-published THE WORKS AND STORIES OF FAITH LORD. She graduated from Towson University, had a ten-year association with Toastmasters, conducted workshops, and had a past career as an associate broker and auctioneer. She is also an abstract artist based in Lewes, Delaware.