Praying in the Motel Outside of Joshua Tree

Nathan Elias


We checked in a quarter after two, our room hot from the day’s temper. Married only a few months, I knew nothing of the many arguments to come, of the countless ways I would disappoint you. The motel a shelter from the desert’s labyrinthine expanse, we took refuge in the motel’s shabby walls, its stained ceiling, its too-small bed. We searched for the Gideon Bible but found only, out of all things, instructions for fixing a washing machine. But an hour earlier we’d photographed each other standing beside the Joshua trees, their twisted branches reminiscent of people frozen in time while dancing—praying—for rain. You pulled my damp, dirty shirt over my head, tossed it to the motel floor. We still had time to prevent the drought. Had we only known to ask for a downpour. Had we not prepared for a flood.


Nathan Elias is the author of the forthcoming novel The Coil, the Quake, and the Rift (Montag Press, Late 2020) and two chapbooks. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles, and he was a finalist of The Saturday Evening Post 2020 Great American Fiction Contest.