New Russian Chronicles
Surviving monotaxocausofilia

There will come soft rains

Today I am back in Rome for the first time after the summer. Work and all.
Coming out of the station I decided to be practical and go to the supermarket to buy my week of groceries. While on the train from the airport and when I entered the supermarket, the sky was blue, the air was balmy…

And barely ten minutes later...

*sigh*.

🙂 I’m happy to be back in Rome.

But that sent my mind on a sadder train of thought. I thought about one of my favorite short stories, of which I’m going to talk about, and which I hope you like.
A story without characters, characters completely absent, and yet so emotionally compelling that their absence alone hurts me like stab. I seriously, seriously advice you to read it.
(You can read it here)
(Quotes in italics)

There will come soft rains

This is the story of a house. A very clever house, with a computer that does everything for you. More precisely, it’s the story of that house starting on the morning of the 4th of August, 2026, in Allendale, California.

You see, it wakes you up in the morning, opens the curtains and even prepares a delicious breakfast for everyone in the house.

At eight-thirty the eggs were shriveled and the toast was like stone. An aluminum wedge scraped them into the sink, where hot water whirled them down a metal throat which digested and flushed them away to the distant sea.

At every relevant hour, its sweet voice would remind you the tasks of the day, peoples birthday… at 8am, for instance, it announces it’s time to go to school and to work.

“Eight-one, tick-tock, eight-one o’clock, off to school, off to work, run, run, eight-one!” But no doors slammed, no carpets took the soft tread of rubber heels.

It waters the plants, cleans automatically… and in the afternoon, even prepares the homeowners favorite games. Everything is ready, they just have to sit and play.

Bridge tables sprouted from patio walls. Playing cards fluttered onto pads in a shower of pips. Martinis manifested on an oaken bench with egg-salad sandwiches. Music played.
But the tables were silent and the cards untouched.
At four o’clock the tables folded like great butterflies back through the paneled walls.

It prepares dinner, a bath, a cigarette and a whiskey for the man of the house…
The fire burned on the stone hearth and the cigar fell away into a mound of quiet ash on its tray.

And reads a poem for his wife. The poem is There will come soft rains.

Then, and only then, do we know of the only human characters in this recite. Because you have noticed, right ? So far, the house has been silent.

The entire west face of the house was black, save for five places. Here the silhouette in paint of a man mowing a lawn. Here, as in a photograph, a woman bent to pick flowers. Still farther over, their images burned on wood in one titanic instant, a small boy, hands flung into the air; higher up, the image of a thrown ball, and opposite him a girl, hands raised to catch a ball which never came down.

But the house keeps performing its tasks, like mindless minions performing the rituals of a now godless religion…

Until, on the night of the 4th of August 2026…
“Today is August 5, 2026, today is August 5, 2026, today is…”

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2 comentarios to “There will come soft rains”

  1. Why does the man of the house get a whiskey and the woman get a poem? So far in the future that the house is entirely automated and still, the man of the house gets a whiskey and the woman gets a poem.

    Speaking of automated houses. I heard on NPR that a group of scientists *finally* designed a robot that can… (pause for dramatic effect)… match a pair of socks!!! And it only takes the robot 15 minutes a pair. http://www.asylum.com/2010/08/31/university-california-berkeley-sock-sorting-pr2-robot-is-real/

  2. Well, remember, it was written in the fifties. Nowdays it would be much more sex and the city.


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