I’ve been wanting to post my fiction for quite a while now, but never got around to fixing up the blog to separate the material. With this new set up finally the whole navigating issue has been simplified and become more accessible. I will post a number of stories, some of them, like this one, in a series of installments. I’ve also included podcast readings for some of them; just click on the audio file link below the narrative.
This story, “Milo and Francesca: A Love Story In The Rain”, was written for a reading and listening course I teach at my university. It caters somewhat to mainly young Japanese women in the class who tend to like “cute” love stories. The oral reading, too, has been simplified so that students might hear the vocabulary and phrases better. Please forgive the slower reading and unnaturally long pauses between words.
1- First Meeting- Milo
It was raining. Milo Caffin stood next to the store window and pulled his baseball cap lower over his eyes. The wind blew across the street with a loud hiss and made Milo shiver in his thin, jeans jacket. He rubbed his hands together and blew on them to warm them up. He glanced at his watch. His friend was late.
“Come on, Jerry, where are you?” he said between his teeth.
Milo pushed his hands into his pockets and jumped up and down, trying to stay warm. He turned away from the street and looked into the store window, seeing, for the first time, the faces looking back at him. He froze, thinking they had seen him standing there, waiting for Jerry. But when he looked closer, he realized that the faces weren’t real. They were puppets, all different kinds, sitting on shelves in the store window. Some of the faces were carved from wood and looked almost lifelike with their human eyes and hair. Other puppets looked like animals or monsters. One looked like a huge lady with bright lipstick and many frilly laces. Another looked like a tall grasshopper wearing a tuxedo and a top hat. Most of the puppets sat in different positions on the shelves, with their strings loose and clothing folded beneath their skinny legs. Milo peered behind the window shelf at the old store inside. More shelves covered the walls, with puppets placed on all them. A curtain hung from one wall in one corner, covering some cardboard boxes. At the opposite side of the room stood a checkout counter made of dark wood. An old, iron cash register sat at one side of the checkout counter. Next to the cash register flickered a candle. The flame waved in the dim light, casting shadows of two puppets onto the walls.
Just then there was a movement behind the counter and a figure stood up and came to view in the candle light. Milo pressed his face against the window pane and tried to make out who it was. The figure seemed to be holding something and using it on the check out counter. Ah, a duster. The figure was dusting the furniture. The figure moved directly into the candlight so that its face was lit by the candlight. A woman. A young woman. Milo held his breath. She was beautiful.
While he was staring at her she looked up and saw him standing in the window. Milo jumped back, into the street. Into the rain.
A hand touched his shoulder and Milo gasped.
“Hey, Milo! Sorry I’m late. My scooter broke down and I had to walk…”
Milo looked back into the store window, but she was gone…