Delia Rainey’s prose and poems have been featured in Pleiades, El Balazo Press, Spy Kids Review, Potluck Magazine, Sweet: A Literary Confection, The Sensation Feelings Journal, Western Humanities Review, Muse A Journal, and an upcoming issue of DIAGRAM. She currently lives in St. Louis, MO where she plays in two bands and tweets a lot (@hellodeliaaaaa).
1 story by Delia Rainey
When I Think About It, I Reach Up Like I’m About To Wave
I’m looking at the horse tapestry in my house in St. Louis. It’s a velvet rug that I nailed to the wall above the green couch. There was a time when this wasn’t all mine. Memories can morph around a rock concert in an old auto garage. The sky above each horse is rich blue like a black hole.
Jessie’s ex-boyfriend got the tapestry for her at a truck stop, I think. It’s that truck stop in Columbia where they made a reality tv show about Midwestern white trash. Really, it’s a diner and a tattoo parlor and one of the biggest prostitute stops in mid-Missouri.
It’s also the Greyhound stop. I’d get dropped off there when I’d visit my ex-boyfriend in Iowa. The feeling is nauseous, standing outside with my backpack in the rain waiting for my sister. Sewage parking lot bends below the big billboard by the highway, glazed with red cowboy boots.
I’m looking at the gift shop inside. I’m looking at those bright water bottles with the straws in them. You know, they look like plastic iced coffee cups. They always have funny gendered sentences on them about drinking wine or being single.
Then, I’m sitting at the diner eating hash browns with Shannon and her boyfriend at the time. She said, “Let’s do homework at Midway.” So we drove 20 minutes out, which felt like a lot back then, and brought our books from literature class.
We were both literature majors. When we moved into the dorms together, she was extremely sick and kept me up all night coughing. There was a hideous fake-wood dresser that separated her bed from mine in the room. On the dresser, we put our literature books, also her bible that her grandma gave her.
One day she gave up the Jesus thing as if it was her plan all along. I didn’t see it coming. Fall came, and Jessie and Shannon hung around these punk boys that were a lot younger than us. Boys with shaved heads and strung-out eyes and one earring each. That’s the boy who bought the horse tapestry.
I love horses. They are so big and awkward and elegant. Whenever I have people over, I always point-out the demented looking one on the rug. It’s dark, with an unnatural curved neck, looking over at the horse beside him. One horse is splashing in the water; soft white accents of tapestry yarn make waves in the light.
Today, we walked through rooms in the art museum that were made to look like rooms from the 1700s. Velvet chairs and colonialist wallpaper of Indians hunting leopards. I said “this is what a room would’ve looked like” or something. We laughed until our bodies collapsed into each other. An embrace of recognition, I never think that will happen again after I lose it.
Next, there is a room of copper prints about Abu Ghraib prisoners. Each print shows a childish but earnest drawing of a prisoner, and then scratchy words of what happened to them. The words must’ve been etched backwards into a copper plate. We read about torture in the public space. The private comes out in acid-eaten scrawls. A horse man, a horse pain. I make-out with a punk boy with face-tattoos in the bathroom at the rock show.
Jessie tells me, that’s not how it happened, though. The tapestry is not from the truck stop. “Shannon and I found it together when we were looking through an old theater at Stephens College that was being renovated,” she texted me. And a wood cutout of a dancer, too, to hang above Shannon’s bed. I remember it – light pink, light blue ballerina.
There’s a gallery that looks like a greenhouse. It displays ritual ceramics for Egyptian tombs. The ceramics are light blue, turquoise, small and hard. Your skin looks blue in the light, like we are going underwater. We swim out. We are swimming towards the stairs of the museum. We touch a quote on the wall and laugh.
Imagine Shannon, drinking coffee and eating wheat toast, reading Chaucer. The punk boys are barking like dogs, skateboarding, wearing screws in their ear-holes. I walk down the isles of spicy potato chips at the truck stop. When I look over at the arcade games, I’m searching for lot lizards. I don’t see them anywhere.
The sky was pink and orange on the way there. I could see the Arch from the car like a single parentheses or shard. A person in a dark cloak and a bag was walking underneath the bridge, the highway ramp. The lower parts. A path of tall grass. The person in migration, mid-way. Billboards for higher education and beer watch like weathered eyes.