by Ren Martinez

Selima’s mood is one of inclement weather, gray and on the horizon. It is a familiar storm; the barometric pressure drops low in her gut, norepinephrine spirals low in her bloodstream.

Keren calls her on Tuesday, the act a hesitant hand clutching a broken olive branch. She rambles through how she is and her new apartment and the new guy at work before reaching the point. Missing Selima is a whispered confession.

“I think I miss you,” Selima admits. She is staring into her coffee, fixated by spirals of milk. “I’m not entirely sure. I haven’t felt much of anything lately.”

When the call ends, it is with the knowledge that Keren would not call back.

(Weeks will pass and they’ll bump into each other underneath an awning for a local coffee shop, both having forgotten an umbrella despite the weatherman’s warning. The slick pulse of rain will beat within each awkward pause as Keren mentions meeting someone for lunch. Selima will then escape with an old newspaper covering her head and hailstones ricocheting in her ribcage.)

Selima peels open the orange bottle waiting for her in her medicine cabinet. She swallows down two pills and contemplates giving Doctor Flannery a call. The thought disappears into low-lying fog as she returns to bed, unable to think past the rain aching in her joints.

Every time she sleeps, it is in the eye of the storm. Every time she wakes up, it is to the crash of thunder, a reminder that lightning isn’t far behind.

It takes three weeks for her fingers to find the strength to dial Doctor Flannery’s number. She is sticky with condensation as she sits in the familiar chair, the doctor’s blue eyes tracking raindrops on her skin. It has been some time since she’s seen blue, and it makes her mouth turn upwards for the first time since the rain began. Doctor Flannery refills her prescription for fluoxetine and recommends weekly sessions. Selima accepts the pills and lies about the appointments, already drowning by the time the receptionist tries to schedule a follow up.

When she gets home, she calls out Keren’s name before she remembers. She sleeps for the rest of the afternoon.

On a Saturday in March, the hurricane reaches her doors, her shingled ribs threatening to rip apart at the gale force winds. Before the levee breaks, Selima stumbles into the kitchen and pours out every bottle of liquor. She dumps two bottles of ibuprofen down the toilet. She holds the orange bottle in her hands for a moment too long, but there are only two pills in it (she is due for a refill) and she puts it back in the cabinet. She returns to her bed to weather the storm, the tracks of rain on her cheeks tasting of salt.

Six months after Keren emptied her drawers, left, Selima gets out of bed for an entire day. She still grimaces at the echo of rain in her joints, but she remembers her grocery list and calls her mom just to say hi. She doesn’t have to rest her hands in order to dial

Doctor Flannery’s number, and the sporadic nature of her appointments have become a weekly routine. After months of thunderstorms, she notices the brightness of flowers everywhere, slick with dew. On a whim, she buys a bouquet of orange roses for the kitchen counter, and it is the closest to the sun she’s seen since November.

Selima can still smell the rain in the air, heavy and gray, but it is only a matter of time before the clouds begin to break.


Ren Martinez is an writer, actor, superhero, and Lost Boy. She has had pieces featured in Potluck Magazine, On the Grid, Life in 10 Minutes, and is a regular contributor to Quail Bell Magazine. She lives in Richmond, Virginia with a cat who thinks she’s a princess.