Global || Ron Riekki

Image Credit: ©KARK


by Ron Riekki

The first day it was a light rain.

We needed it. It was romantic.

I wanted a baby. I told her. She wanted to know why, why with her. I didn’t know how to word it. I said, “I just have this drive where I feel like it would be an honor to be linked to you for the rest of my life. I just feel like I’m supposed to be with you and I don’t know how to word it better than that.”

“Now isn’t the time.”

“With the weather?”

‘The weather?’ It was an understatement. There had been news flashes, public warning siren testing, for two weeks, one reporter telling the audience, us, to ‘batten the hatches.’ Of course, as happens, everything sold out, quickly, including hammers, nails, scissors, duct tape, home security cameras, guns. I didn’t understand the guns. It was the weather. Were they going to shoot the rain? Would a bullet stop wind? And if people thought there would be robberies, who could you rob? To go outside, they told us, would be risking death, if it got as bad as some meteorologists suspected. My wife asked me if I thought it would get to that level. I told her I had no idea. This was Michigan. We don’t get hurricanes. Although the news reported a previous high of 145-mile-per-hour wind, two decades ago, where more than two hundred people died. The news was saying this time it would be worse, much worse, but online, people were skeptical. Online, people were saying everything. Some were saying we’d have no rain at all.

I looked out the window at the drizzle. It was the perfect time to have a baby, I thought. If it stayed like this, calm, intimate. But if we were going to die, I felt, strangely, that we should try. It made no sense. But it was what I wanted.

We held hands at the window.

On the second day, it was a steady rain. Not light. Not heavy. Just steady, without stopping, flood warnings, but no sirens.

She kissed me that day. That was all. Once. In the morning. She was nervous. We’d bought as much soup as possible, ate split pea. She’d done the shopping early, well before the food aisles sold out. I can’t imagine what people did who got to the stores and found everything gone. What would they eat? Maybe it would be delving into every crevice of your pantry, ignoring the expiration dates, items you ate once and realized you didn’t like, but didn’t want to throw away. We had canned peaches and pineapples like that. Neither of us liked them. I wondered if, by the end, we’d eat them all.

On the third day, it was a heavy rain. We had one window where we put a small gap in the wood. We didn’t nail them in strongly. It was light, minimal nails. We weren’t sure if this would just pass. Across the street, one neighbor, early, started barricading like it was the zombie apocalypse. He lived alone. I couldn’t imagine being trapped inside alone, the darkness of your self. Thank God I had Tsui. In the morning, she was making eggs. It was smart, to eat the perishables first. Although eggs can last weeks after the expiration date. It smelled so wonderful. The sound of eggs and bacon and rain. I hugged her from behind. She let me. I told her it was going to be OK. She told me it was going to be OK.

On the fourth day, the wind came. The rain was almost nonexistent, just patches, yawns of rain, but threatening clouds. The sky seemed filled with old ghosts, ghosts that were on their deathbed. A tree branch scraped the wood covering one of the windows. I liked the sound. It seemed playful. I tried to seduce her. I did pushups to exhaustion, way beyond what I normally do, forcing myself up and lowering myself slowly when I couldn’t do anymore. I put on instant tanning lotion. I never do that. I wanted to look the opposite of pale and cooped inside. We stopped listening to the news. What was the use? The sirens would let us know what to do, when we should start hammering, if it would be needed.

On the fifth day, the wind was trying to murder our shutters and it was succeeding. It was a massive jump from the day before. It was rain, but sounded like hail. We looked through the crack of the window, but it wasn’t hailing. The rain was falling horizontally. The neighbor’s house across the street, we couldn’t see. The trees ached.

“What about the animals?”

“They’re smart. I’m sure they dug holes way before our neighbor bought nails. They know. Animals know.”

“I hope so. I’m worried about them.”

“Which ones?”

“All of them?”

“Even the fish?”

“All of them.”

“Are the sirens going?”

“It’s too loud to tell.”

“That’s funny we can’t even hear the sirens.”

“I don’t know about ‘funny.’”

“I don’t like this.”

“We’re going to be all right.”

“I saw a bike go by.”

“A bicycle?”



“The wind blew it. It was raking across the road. It made me feel sick.”

I started hammering. She joined me. We worked in silence.

Later, in the shower, I put soap all over her body, washed her off. She was tired. We slept well, even with the banging. I had a nightmare, woke up screaming. She didn’t say anything, just grabbed my hand and turned over and we went back to bed.

On the sixth day, we lost power. I was avoiding the news, worried about what was being reported, but now I craved it. We had candles. It got too smoky. We put them out. It was stunning how dark it was. We just lied in bed. We had water. We ate nuts.

“I want a meal. A full meal.”

“I know.”

“And it’s only been one day. I’m not exactly a soldier.”

“You are.”

“We both are.”

“I don’t want to be a soldier.”

“What do you want to be?”

“A monk. What do you want to be?”

“With you. I’ll be a monk too. If I’m with you.”

We made love. Maybe out of fear. Maybe because it was one of the things we could do in such darkness. I was impressed by the darkness. It would be easy to sleep, but there would be sudden explosions, things hitting the house. We couldn’t look out of the crack anymore.

“How many days will this go on?”

We held each other, gently, collapsed into each other.

“Can we shower?”

“I don’t know.”

“Should we?”

“No, I want your smell on me.”

“I’m hot.”

“I know. A fan would be nice.”

“We can sleep naked.”

“Of course. No sheets.”

“You’ll be my sheet.”

“I love you.”

“Did you hear that? What do you think that was?”

“Could be anything.”

“It sounded like a car hit the house. Is that possible?”

“I don’t know.”

“Should we look?”

“If the wall was gone, we’d know. We’d hear it. It would be violent, the sound.”

“Do you think that could happen?”

“No, the house next door blocks our house. Nothing blocks that house though. I’m worried about that house.”

“Are they in there?”

“I don’t know.”

“Should we go see?”

“It’s impossible. The doors are barricaded. And I’m too tired to move everything.”

“I’m tired too.”

We made love again. We stared at the ceiling, unable to see it. We slept.

On the seventh day, a washing machine came through our living room wall. The wind entered. It cut us off from our kitchen. It was brutal, running through the wind and rain that swirled inside, our living room emptied in moments, minutes, destroyed, the rain so hard on the skin that it hurt, left marks, carrying as much food as we could, into the hallway, slamming the door, barricading it. The water came underneath, filled the hallway. We took towels from the bathroom, laid them down. It didn’t help. We went into the bedroom. It was so close to the neighbor’s house. Before, we hated that. We’d look out the window and see wall, their wall, unpainted. Now, it was a shield.

Every once in a while, we went in the hallway; there was some light coming through the cracks in the door. We’d stand there, staring.

On the eighth day, we were deaf. The wind was so loud that we’d sit, blocking our ears until our fingers hurt. Otherwise, it sounded like jet engines roaring.

Then the bedroom’s roof ripped off, just peeled back and was gone. It was night. Or maybe day. There was no sunlight, so we were unable to tell. The sky was here, in the room with us. God ate into our bodies. We clung to each other. We were swept up, into the wind, like a baby being picked up by a parent.

Ron Riekki has been awarded a 2014 Michigan Notable Book, 2015 The Best Small Fictions, 2016 Shenandoah Fiction Prize, 2016 IPPY Award, 2019 Red Rock Film Fest Award, 2019 Best of the Net finalist, 2020 Dracula Film Festival Vladutz Trophy, 2019 Très Court International Film Festival Audience Award and Grand Prix, 2020 Rhysling Anthology inclusion, and 2022 Pushcart Prize.  Right now, Riekki's listening to Rodriguez's "Crucify Your Mind."

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