Issue #51

Summer 2014

It Pours

by Sarena Ulibarri

The first drops fell before I noticed the clouds that had gathered in the corner of my bedroom. I heard them, a slow drip that I attributed to a leaky faucet, or to an overflowing bathtub from the upstairs neighbors that I heard fighting all the time. But when I dragged my eyes up to the ceiling, straining, my whole face pulled by the effort of it, I saw the cumulus bunched into the corner like a clump of dust. I watched it spread across my ceiling. Drops plunked on pant legs, dripped off my arms. I laid straight as a corpse on the bed and let it happen, until every inch was soaked.

When the water began to pool such that I was sure it would be seeping down into the downstairs neighbors' apartment, I rose from my bed and got dressed. There was no way to stop the rain, not that I could see. You can't halt a natural phenomenon, even when it creeps inside our unnatural structures. So I went downstairs simply to apologize, explain that if it bothered him immensely it might be a good idea to request a change from the landlord, because I didn't know when it was likely to let up. I had only met the man once or twice on the stairs, but I knew his face and felt comfortable telling him bluntly about my situation.

But when he opened the door, he wasn't interested in my storm clouds. He held onto the door with both hands, and shouted "What?" above the roar of wind that emanated from his living room.

"The water," I said, "I hope it's not dripping through your ceiling."

"No water here," he said and slammed the door, the stillness of the air a sudden relief.

I stepped back, leaning on the wood railing, wondering if weather had infiltrated the rest of the apartments. None of my raindrops dripped through the slats, as I'd been sure they would.

I'd rather have rain than wind. When I was a child I actually enjoyed the rain. I remember running out into it, twirling with my friends until we were soaked, until we had to peel our heavy clothes off, my mother yelling at us to not drip on the carpet. Wind, though, reminded me of storm cellars and tangled hair and chapped lips.

I turned and descended the staircase, then stood in the parking lot and looked up at the windows. Most were closed, but a few were open. I saw one man standing in his office, with snow dropping gracefully around him. The apartment next to him was on fire, but though the curtains swayed with the heat, they never caught or burned; no smoke alarm sounded and it never spread to the other rooms. My rain wasn't so bad, considering. I went back upstairs to find it had lightened to a drizzle. I shivered, but wrapped myself tight in a raincoat and went back to bed.

Author Bio


Sarena Ulibarri earned her MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder and was part of the Clarion UCSD 2014 class. Her fiction has appeared in Lightspeed, Kasma SF,, The Colored Lens and elsewhere. Find more at