AW June Blog Chain — “Settings” — The Pacific NW

Rain drops on a rhododendron leaf.

Image via Wikipedia

Welcome to the June blog chain.   Ralph Pines preceded me in the chain and Pezie will follow me.  The complete list of participants is at the end of my post.

This month’s prompt: Setting the Scene

Write a location description, and make us feel as if we are there. No dialogue, no introductory comments, just a location. We’re the tourists, you’re the guide.

I have a confession to make–this is NOT my cup o’tea.  I am more of a dialogue girl.  Any-who, this is an excellent exercise for me, a needed exercise.

Without further ado, welcome to the setting of my (Iris’s) YA novel.  I’ve taken an existing scene and edited out all the dialogue and replaced it with prose, and now that it’s done, I rather like it being dialogue-free.

Rex stands to dispose of his food tray.  Wordlessly, he cocks his head.  His grin is a effective enough leash, and with a sigh, I extricate myself from the institutional picnic table.  I trot alongside him as the watchful scowls of a few classmates escort us out of the cafeteria.

Down the hallway to the exterior door we walk.  It’s a closed campus but we’re allowed outside.  No one, not even a smoker, has opted for this limited form of freedom.  Why would they?  It’s pouring down rain.

Rex herds me outside anyway.

The grass beyond the sidewalk swims beneath a glassy surface broken only by kamikaze raindrops.  The rain has spared no section of sidewalk, blowing in sideways to soak even the walls and walkway under the eaves.  We pause and stare into the grey gloom.

I feel like I should apologize for the weather to this New Yorker who stands by my side.  That’s what we do in the Pacific Northwest—apologize, always apologize for the drizzle and clouds, for the constant lack of sun that will grip your soul and squeeze out every morsel of joy if you show a moment’s weakness.

In the gloom, I sniff the air that smells of mineral-laden tap water with a twist of mildew.

Rex steps to the edge of the covered area and stretches a hand out to catch a few raindrops.  He repeats the gesture with two cupped hands and laps up his catchings.  I watch his chest expand as he breathes in deeply.  His exhale is loud and satisfied and he murmurs something about how refreshing it all is.  I snort back my disdain.  He won’t think that after he’s lived here awhile.

With that same enslaving grin, he retreats and says we should move to the front of the building.

Again, I follow.  Beats spending the last few minutes of our lunch break in the oppressive kangaroo court of student opinion.

We walk in a silence as heavy and ponderous as the bruised skies that press in on us.

When we turn the corner, Rex slides his back down the wall and sits on the sidewalk, the first dry patch I’ve seen.  The wind has overlooked driving the wetness toward this compass point.

I slide down in similar fashion and sit next to him.  We’re somewhat hidden behind a grouping of rhododendrons nestled near the based of a monolithic evergreen that creaks and sways in the wind.  Come May, the stalwart rhodies will explode in a riot of crimson and cotton candy pink.

Our thighs and arms brush, but neither of us adjusts to make more room.  In the corona of Rex’s warmth, I sit and watch the liquid sunshine.

The participants:

orion_mk3 – (link to this month’s post)
juniper – (link to this month’s post)
LadyMage – (link to this month’s post)
dolores haze – (link to this month’s post)
jkellerford – (link to this month’s post)
Ralph Pines – (link to this month’s post)
AuburnAssassin – YOU ARE HERE
pezie – (link to this month’s post)
WildScribe – (link to this month’s post)
Inkstrokes – (link to this month’s post)
Irissel – (link to this month’s post)
Guardian – (link to this month’s post)
Lyra Jean – (link to this month’s post)
egoodlett – (link to this month’s post)
cwachob – (link to this month’s post)
xcomplex – (link to this month’s post)
Della Odell – (link to this month’s post)
Aheïla – (link to this month’s post)
Robbi Sommers Bryant – (link to this month’s post)
TheMindKiller – (link to this month’s post)

31 thoughts on “AW June Blog Chain — “Settings” — The Pacific NW

  1. Nice overall effect, turning the dour weather from a negative to a positive over the course of the narrative. I wonder at the setting, though, with a closed campus and an institutional table. Prison came to mind first, then an asylum, but I don’t think either of those is co-ed.

    • Thank you! Guess I’ll edit “institutional” into something a little more innocuous. It’s just a high school with its rows and rows of picnic-like tables. Cheers!

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  5. “I sniff the air that smells of mineral-laden tap water with a twist of mildew.” <– LOVE that description!
    And the very last paragraph was great too, the contrast of his warmth with the cold rain. I love rainy scenes… so I really enjoyed this one! 🙂 Great job

  6. I loved the way you show both the gloomy weather and the effect Rex has on her. Well done. I wasn’t sure about the ‘institutional’ table, though. Is she like in a school for wayward kids? 🙂

    Other than that, I so got the feel of the dreariness and the rain. I could feel the wetness biting at my bones. Nice job. Wonderfully done.

    • Thank you, Jen. It’s just a regular old high school. Guess I’ll swap out “institutional” for something a little less negative. I just meant those picnic style tables with the benches attached to the tables. It’s also nice to get this type of feedback. I’d wondered about that word choice.

  7. Beautiful description, Claire. I live in the Pacific Northwest–the Canadian side–and believe me, this year we’ve gotten our lions share of rain.

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  9. The description is excellent and the lack of dialogue gives a further muted feel to the piece.
    But this, “His grin is a effective enough leash,” this is absolutely brilliant!

    The ending reminds my of a misheard lyric to Sunshine Superman by Donovan “Sunshine rains softly upon my widow today.” I know it’s not the right lyric but I love the image and feel.

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  11. I loved your description of the rain. It was so different probably because like others said her attitude changed over time. Instead of staying sort of down Rex kinda lifted her up and she saw the rain differently.

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  14. I love that line about his grin being an effective leash. That’s a very cool way to put exactly what we can see in our minds.

    It’s weird how I saw myself relating to both because I recently moved to the Seattle area. And at first I did find the weather refreshing and it reminded me of home (Indiana). But until recently it had really started to depress me, lol. Getting better as summer comes in!

    Great contrast between how she feels about the rain and the boy. I liked it.

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