The Boy Who Enumerated Rain — Johannes Punkt

The taillights on the car in front blinked unevenly, like a tired man trying at all costs to avoid closing both his eyes at once. It was late, so the blurry lights left behind little trails in Assim’s vision. Outside their car, it rained sitska, the rain that wants in. It left paw prints on the windshield and on the passenger-side window, trying to get Assim to roll down the window and let it in.

The first two hours, his father had excitedly babbled about the new home, how nice it would be, and how they would have a lawn and could forget about tall stairwells. Both were quiet now.

The car in front turned left and disappeared forever, and the highway stretched for miles ahead of them. Assim fell asleep before they got to the new home, so his first impression of it was the rain that tapped on his roof and window when he woke up. It was a new kind of rain, he wanted to take it in one sense at a time, so he waited before opening his eyes. He had to decide on a name for this rain, too.

It sounded patient, but cold. It was a distant cousin of tarraté, the spider rain that crawls quickly, but Assim was certain that he was far away from any forest where such rain could fall. He opened his eyes; his new room was tiny, as if his rooms shrunk smaller and smaller as he grew bigger. He had to try to cope with this.

The rain disappeared abruptly, while Assim examined the boxes around him. The towers of cardboard boxes obscured the view to the window. Maybe, he thought, if he could unpack all these boxes labelled “ASSIM” (as if smaller versions of himself were folded up inside) this room wouldn’t be that small.

The rain began again and his heart raced. What was this place and how did its rain work? He had narrowed down the new rain’s name to three possible contestants: miólin because it was a morning rain; sièche, the gentle rain that blends with dreams, because it had been going on a while before he woke up; or barrat for the drumbeat way it scurried down the window and disappeared.

It was necessary to stand in the new rain for an hour or until it went away, before giving it its name. Therefore, he had to run out now. With a rain this fickle, it could take months before he would have the opportunity again. He clambered up on the bedposts of his new bed and cracked open the topmost of the “ASSIM” boxes, which was full of clothes. He changed quickly and ran out of his room into the kitchen only to run straight into a hug from his father.

“Let me go,” Assim cried, and his father let him go.

“You have to have breakfast,” his father said as Assim struggled to put on one of his boots. “You can run out and play later.”

Only now did Assim observe what kind of a room he was in: a one-table kind of room, with a tiny kitchen window currently covered with a sheet of water, and a hissing stove, and the smell of pancakes. Grumpily, Assim wormed out of his boot and sat down at the table. The hissing sounded like tich, the rain that falls on hot asphalt and becomes mist. The on-again, off-again rain at the window made him think of forest rain again. There was a special kind of rain that fell in forests where the leaves were wide. He called it bissup, second rain. First a shower would fall and broad, brave leaves would umbrella anything and anyone stood underneath them. But the rain would keep falling, or a bird would unperch and rustle the leaves, so they would drop their payload all at once.

Assim finished his pancake and rushed to the door again. His father was babbling about how this city, this city might be a keeper, a keeper, at last. “We’ve even got a lawn, boy,” he said, beaming, before wolfing down his own pancake.

A lawn.

Assim hopped around to fit his feet into his boots without untying them first and when he got them on he marched out without his jacket and he saw, for the first time in his life, a device commonly known as a lawn sprinkler. It made small tch tch tch noises. Its rays of water swayed back and forth like a lazy arm at an airport late at night, belonging to someone welcoming their family home.

for Lily

Johannes Punkt, whose first language is Swedish, hides his accent by trying to talk in all other accents simultaneously. He writes tiny fictions at