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Walking in the Rain
I sneak out the back door. I say sneak, because it makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong, dangerous even, and that gives me a sense of importance. But the truth is, everyone knows I’ve gone out, and nobody cares. They’re all watching their Saturday afternoon TV programs and don’t want to be disturbed.
The door closes with a bang and I make a face as a cold gust of wind slams me back hard. I shiver for a minute, rubbing my arms, and then continue on my way. The clouds are gray and heavy—nimbostratus? My science professor would know. The trees seem to be bending too low to the ground and the air is still and uncomfortable. I look back at the warm glow coming from the kitchen window—no, I should keep going.
I start walking toward town, it’s not a long walk, but I haven’t changed from my pajama bottoms and all I have on up top is a bra and a sweatshirt, so the cold slows me down. I step in a puddle and my flip-flops get covered in water, the very bottom of my pants splattered with tiny droplets of mud. Now my shoes make a funny sound with every step.
“Squeak, squeak.” But I don’t mind. It breaks the eerie silence that’s all around me.
The wind picks up and blows stray strands of my hair around my face. I didn’t really do anything to it this morning, just brushed it out and threw it up in a ponytail. As I get closer into town, people look at me, and I can just tell by their faces they don’t think very highly of me. People I know, people I don’t know—passing me, watching me, coming up with their own little theories and ideas in their minds about me. If it were any other time, this would have bothered me. Now I don’t really care.
I finally reach town. My pace decreases, as much as it can decrease at the slow speed I was already going, and I move over to the sidewalk. I tug the sweatshirt closer to my body and pull down the hood so my nose is buried in the fabric. That’s when I notice the logo on the front and that soft, sweet smell. His smell. This was his jacket. I want to tear it off my body but there are people all around me and I don’t think I could get away with that. Besides, now it’s started raining.
I think of him. I promised…no swore that I wouldn’t, but how could I not? I’m wearing his sweatshirt, carrying his scent. He’s beautiful, that boy. His eyes are blue. No, not just blue, they’re the color of the crayon I stole from him during art class in middle school. Midnight blue. I never gave that crayon back. Is it weird that after I discovered that crayon I searched my boxes to find the color of his hair? I never did. His hair was brown, but not just brown, with natural streaks of everything blending together to make his perfect hair color. But I guess if you haven’t spent day, weeks, months, even years studying his hair, stroking his hair, and playing with his hair, a chestnut crayon would be closest.
I cross the train tracks and pick up the sidewalk on Main Street. Every town in the world probably has a Main Street. Maybe if I traveled the country and counted it could make me forget him. I doubt it though. At first the rain was just coming down in a mist, but now the raindrops were big and fat, rolling down the sloping roofs and making splashes in the puddles already on the ground. My pajama bottoms covered with hearts are becoming plastered to my legs.
My face is covered with water, making my mascara run. But it’s not rainwater, it’s tears. I pass the café in the middle of town and look right through the glass windows into the eyes of my friends. They’re goofing around with steaming hot drinks and donuts. Someone waves me in, but I shake my head and tap my wrist like I have to get somewhere on time.
I think about him again, and the tears come faster and thicker now. I think about the time he asked me out, the first time we kissed, last year on my birthday when he took me to Build-a-Bear and we made the bear together. He took the little red heart and put it inside the bear, and then his warm, soft lips met mine in the middle of the mall. I still sleep with that bear, and it kills me every night, but I cant get rid of it. I can’t bear it.
My phone buzzes in my pocket and I take it out and look at the lit-up screen. Michael. It flashes five times and then goes to machine. I’ll call him back later. Maybe. I’m soaked to the skin now, and Main Street seems to go on forever, and endless stream of shops, cars, and people. Someone is headed toward me on the sidewalk. I can’t see who it is…it’s a guy with perfect chestnut hair…Ohmigod. It’s him.
He’s looking down, texting, and the corners of his mouth are pulled up into that slight smile that I loved…love so much. He used that smile when we snuck out late at night to go to the beach. Out on the cool sand we talked, and he tickled me until I almost couldn’t breath. After he stopped was when I really couldn’t breath…
He’s getting closer. Closer. He’s right in front of me now. I wonder who he’s talking to. My eyes are extremely blurred from the tears and my head is swimming. My heart is beating three times as fast as usual, so fast it seems like he can hear it. I’m gasping for breath…just like it used to be, except now he’s not helping me get it back. In fact, he’s just realizing that I’m here.
“Will…” I whisper. Horns honk, wind chimes clank together, people shout. But he hears me. I know he hears me because his head jerks up and he looks at my face and my clothes. He sees my blurry mascara and he sees my messy hair and he sees my dirty sweatpants, the ones he used to tell me were his favorite. He just stands there looking for a good two minute. His chestnut streaked hair is blowing and his midnight blue eyes are searching, searching for something…but I don’t know what.
“I have a date.” He says, his voice not wavering. I die a thousand deaths. Why did her say that? Couldn’t he have said something else, anything else? I cry more and more and blame it on the rain, but he knows my secret. His midnight blue eyes are truly the mirror to his soul, and I can tell that he feels incredible pain, maybe more than I do. But he would never show it. Show me how much he still loves me. “You can keep the sweatshirt.” He says, as if I had offered it back to him. He pushes past me and continues down the street.
I stumble forward, losing any composure that I still had. Why did he break up with me? He never said. He never said anything actually. He just told me it wasn’t working out. I love you but I don’t. I want you but I cant have you. But I know it was because one night he asked me to do something…and I said no. His friends gave him trouble and he didn’t want to have to deal with it. So that was that. He’s moving on so I should too. I get to the ocean beach and slip on the slick sand. I fall and I don’t get back up. I sit there and sob and sob and the rain is beating down on me and it hurts inside and out but I cant stop the pain. I see that stupid logo on that stupid sweatshirt and I hate it. I tear it off and throw it down. Ocean spray blows in and hits me and I’m cold, so cold but I don’t care.
“I hate you!” I scream at the sweatshirt. “I hate you!” There are more tears running down my cheeks then raindrops. I cant think, my mind is all fuzzy and I just want to go back and make it so nothing ever happened. Suddenly someone comes up behind me and drapes a jacket over my shaking shoulders. Michael sits next to me and wipes the tears off my face. I think for a moment how I must look to him. A soaking wet girl sitting on the beach in her bra and shivering in the cold.
Michael looks straight into my eyes, and I can tell that he knows. But no one else has seen. No one else even noticed. I lay my head down on his shoulder and he puts his arm around me.
That’s why I like walking in the rain. Nobody can see me cry.