Girl in the Rain
The lady in black waited in the rain by the desolate road. Stranded and aimless but nevertheless she waited. After all aren’t we all waiting? Her trench coat failing against the cold and a black umbrella her only source of protection from the pelting torrent. The day drawing to an end on what was supposed to be the busiest road between the two cities, but today there were no cars going or coming from either direction as if the universe was trying to stress a point.
This is the worst of the worst. Have lightning hit me already, she thought, lingering in shock.
The weight on her shoulders not getting any lighter, even by a feather’s. Her heart growing sour with each pound in her chest and her body ceaselessly tremblin , not from the cold, from the bitterness bred by her misfortunes. Head resting on her chest, she stared at the red broken heel resting against her left shoe where it came from. She drifted to the moment when she bought the shoes. She’s always been obsessed with getting them from the display in front Suze’s Shoes at the mall. When she did get the shoes it was for an interview for an internship at Greame & Trudy , an accounting firm in the city. Nothing major but it was where she wanted to be. After years in university filled with pessimism about her future and her ability to make it in the real world, getting the position was a complete surprise and shock. Eyes-wide-and-mouth-gaping great. She moved in with a couple of friends from university and she was adapting seamlessly at the office. There was a sense of direction and invincibility that came with it all. Suddenly the world wasn’t as bleak and the concrete jungle was rendered into a paradise overnight.
She moved into an apartment with three of her university friends. In solidarity three single ladies, fresh out of university and out to conquer Scarlet City, the hub of the country’s wealth and with all its industries (from overalls, costumes to suits). They would start the morning on the small kitchen table with chatter and breakfast before parting for the day. Check on each other throughout the day via social media and share all the special and challenging moments from their different workplaces. Connected by threads of boundless friendship surpassing time and space. The nights would end on the balcony with some random treats or wine that one of them decided to pick up on the way home. Some nights the conversations would spin so deep and the games so fun that not even bedtime could intrude. Then without warning there were late nights, early morning rushes, nights out with colleagues and unpredictable minor commitments. Somewhere in that whirlwind the balcony collected dust, the kitchen dwindled to silence and the nights grew lonely. It was as if one morning they had parted and never returned to the same flat ever again. It was disappointing. She would find herself awake wondering how they were doing as if she had never seen them after graduation.
Here she stood cursing how naive she had been, hope seeping off her disgruntled soul. Transfixed by the events past and occurring. She raised her head and ogled at the transcended beauty of the mundane. A cavalcade of dark clouds from the depth of the horizon and bright flashes penetrating the broodingly fatigued dark clouds. The inarticulate thoughts inside her head silenced and hysterically wandered without aim, uncomprehending and muddled she was.
“Miss,” a male voice startled her, “ you need a lift?”
She mindlessly nodded from habit, dismayed at the fact that a car had just pulled over in front of her and she hadn’t noticed.
The door opened and the man called out, “Well, get in!”
In the same manner she shut the umbrella and climbed onto the passenger seat. The inside was warm, luxurious and comfy with caramel leather seats. Sighing out of relief, she crossed her arms, sunk back and closed her eyes.
“What were you doing here? There is no mine or any work of that kind,” he said as he started the car., a trace of genuine interest in his voice.
She remained quiet.
He glanced at her, puzzled. He didn’t want to be intrusive but nevertheless he found himself intrigued to a degree of non-familiarity. “Where are you heading? To the city?” he asked.
There wasn’t a response, he glanced at her and found her staring down in between her thighs.
Strangely he found himself not daunted by her inattention. He grimaced trying to figure out what to say next and work out her situation. “You know if you were looking down a screen right now the staring would be less awkward. Like my daughters, sometimes they are so absorbed in that stuff that I almost don’t exist.” There was no response and he continued, mostly speaking to himself as he always did. “First time doing something altruistic and it is balls awkward.” He laughed.
Then her eyes set on him, he could sense the eerie touch of her sight from the back of his head, shoulders and then his back. A calming and a disconcerting experience it was. Then it was gone, leaving him wanting more, he glanced at her to find her gaze focused on the road. He began wondering what her voice sounded like, her laugh and if her smile is as mesmerizing as a rare jewel. If her face was capable of exuding passion and if her touch was dizzying. What kind of sense of humour she had, did she enjoy traveling or hiking? Was she a morning person who lifts spirits like rays of sunshine?
In his wondering he became joyfully lost and inhibited.
Then a soft voice interrupted, “I don’t feel anything.” It had come from her, carrying a chugging emotive weight to it.
He glanced at her and found himself without a response. He awkwardly nodded. A few seconds passed and the wheels happily rolled with them, a soft sound slicing through the rainwater.
Then suddenly with a voice riddled with urgency, she demanded, “Take me back to where you found me, right now!”
Puzzled and without response he turned the car around on road with a curious sense of urgency. He flicked at glance her side and was surprised to find her demeanour stayed as cold and reclusive as before as if she never uttered a word. It did more than just intrigue him, it owned the wanderings of his naturally slacking thoughts and aroused them. A refreshing encounter. He thought he should ask her why, but did not summon to courage to. “This road looks the same on all sides so I’m just guessing here.”
She did not respond. He was fully aware that such responses aren’t always indicative of a lack of regard. Often they are innocent and unintentional. However at this moment he felt as if there was nothing innocent and unintentional about hers. All sorts of questions regarding her current state seized him.
“I think this was it.” He turned the car around into the other lane and pulled over on the side where he supposedly found her.
Without hesitation she leaped out leaving the door open. She limped a few yards from the car, her head down as if searching for something. He waited, only because she had her umbrella in the car, assuming with all the hard rain she would realize she had left it behind and come back. After a few moments she came back, resumed her seat and shut the door, noticeably grasping some item in her hands tightly like a precious piece of jewellery.
She sighed heavily, as if from relief. Her face remained frigid and emotionally barren as she reclined to her hollow posture. Without moving her lips she uttered, “Go now.”
He stared, once more finding himself without a response but an eerie inclination to be hasty.
The windscreen wipers squeaked on the windshield emphasizing the silence in the car. It sounded like how he had imagined cries of ants sounded like when he flooded their formicary as boy in his grandma’s backyard. “This weather is pretty shitty?”
She stuck the object in her hands behind her, then folded her arms. He wanted to ask, but she clearly did not want him to see it. He figured it wasn’t his business anyway although the urge to find out kept growing. A smile tugged at the one corner of her mouth, unprovoked and hollow. The rest of her oblivious to the fact. A lot about it felt out of place. Unlike most things that are blatantly out of place this one wasn’t easily noticeable as such.
He found himself thinking about Rob. Whether he will be wearing his favourite blue denim pants and his baggy brown jersey. Although it had been roughly four years since he last saw him. It never occurred to him how strange it was to picture him in the same clothes he wore four years ago in college. In his mind Rob was untouched by time and still housed that rebellious spirit. Rebellion that was often unspecified and aimless, he felt. He was not a sour fuck, not one to choke fun out of pleasurable things. Strangely, what interested him the most was whether Rob still had his awful taste in music. He walked deeper into the wilderness of his memories.
“I am going out to the city to meet an old friend of mine. I am so excited,” he shared, with a smile on his face. “That’s bound to be a killer time.”
“What if it’s not going be a killer time? Would you still go see him?” she asked.
He was surprised that she listened. “Yeah ,of course. I haven’t seen him in four years. I miss the heck out of him.”
She nodded. “What do you miss the most about him?”
He laughed, his mind traveling back. “Well, everything really. Don’t know what exactly. He is very funny and great person to spend time with. With him you don’t feel judged or anything, you can just be everything. I guess he is a great person overall. We shared a lot of memories together and have always been there for each other, you know. Regardless.”
“What if he wasn’t so great to hang around him anymore? Would you still go see him?”
He snorted. “Of course, he means a lot to me.”
“What if he wasn’t all those things? What if he wasn’t funny and he was stripped of all the memories? What then?”
“I would still go see him.” He paused, to think. “I think there is a deeper connection beyond what he is and what he isn’t. I can’t put my finger on it but it is there.”
“I doubt it.”
“Why?” he frowned.
“No one ever does anything or becomes friends with you for the sake of it. That is what you are trying to tell me. There is always something in it for you, even when you think you are acting selflessly. I’m not gonna be that naive person anymore. I know we as humans would like to believe otherwise but there is no such thing. At the end of the day we are out there for ourselves,” she coldly replied.
He found himself nipped and unable to respond, all he could do was frown for the moment.
“It makes me wonder how much darkness lurks beneath us all, buried under convention, law and custom. I’m sure you would eat him up if it came down to it. Aren’t we all cannibals with forks instead of claws and canines at the end of the day?” She shifted her wintry gaze to him.
He could feel its glare on the side of his face but he would not look back. He swallowed. “What happened to you?”
She looked away, her eyes glistening with tears. “I just got hijacked,” she choked.
“Oh, wow. You poor thing. I’m so sorry. On this road?”
“Jesus, how’d they get you to stop? I mean there’s virtually no speed limit on this one.”
“They pretended to be traffic cops or were traffic cops, I don’t know. They pulled out a gun on me and everything.” Tears straddled her cheeks.
“Oh, wow. Fuck.” A feeling of sympathy came over him. “That’s horrible. I am so sorry.” He paused, as she wept. “ Um, do you want some hot chocolate? I think you could use some hot chocolate.”
She nodded, wiping her cheeks with the back of her hand.
“Okay, okay. I am gonna take a dirt road to the perfect place. It’s also a rarely used short cut to the city so we won’t be that far from home, okay?”
She nodded. “Okay.”
She was driven through the woods. After a turn into a secondary dirt road they were approaching an old two story house dwarfed by pine trees in the front and back. Form far it looked sullen and shy like an abused bulldog. Some parts of it where still white but most of the paint had come off. The front lawn was divided by a causeway to the porch, and on the left side a rusty swing set had capsized into the tall grass. The wire fence held by slanting poles drooped to the ground, the front gate slanted into the ground right before the causeway. Two empty rocking chairs on the porch and a table.
When he had opened the door gestured her into the house. She stood not far from the doorway taking in the place. The furniture in the living room was antique and worn to a degree. There was a side board at the rear of the room filled with glass knickknacks and cutlery. At the front an empty fireplace and on the sides bookcases with old hardcovers. The walls were black with a tint of grey as if from soot. Above the sideboard on the rear there were two portraits juxtaposed, one of God and another Satan. Above one of the bookcases a picture of Mandela was juxtaposed with Hitler’s. On top of the other bookcase a portrait of Jesus Christ was juxtaposed with that of Charles Manson. Above the fireplace Richard Dawkins with the pope. They were all framed by engraved wooden frames which were then painted grey. She found it all morally contradictory and disconcerting. It made her wonder what kind of a weirdo he was if he grew up in a house where Hitler was hug up next to Mandela.
“Take a seat.” He gestured. “This used to be my grandma’s house. We just keep it the way she left it when she died.” He laughed. “Or we try to. She was a very philosophical woman. I grew up here.” He disappeared into a hallway and returned seconds later with a blanket. “Here. It used to be mine.”
She wrapped herself in it and sank into one of the sofas, she could feel the frame beneath the cushions and it creaked. “Thank you.”
He disappeared into the hallway again and this time she heard cutlery. A few moments he returned with two cups of steaming hot chocolate.
After her first sip, she could feel her tension melt away.
He pulled in front of her flat. “Here you are then. Keep well.”
She stared at him. “I have money up in my apartment. I will have to go and get it.”
He shook his head, smiling. “No, it’s fine. I was just helping. One motorist to another. No, need to me pay me anything.”
An incredulous smile tugged at the corner of her mouth. “Wow, thank you.”
She opened the door and before she could climb out, he said, “Look, I have been thinking about what you said.” He sighed, structuring what he was going to say in his mind. “My grandma constantly taught me one thing while growing up. Now I know why. She told me that people aren’t good or evil. We are all grey inside, there is no light or darkness just a grey slate. Sure there are evil deeds and good deeds, but that is all there is. Some people are just fortunate, others not so much and that could be the difference between choosing one deed over the other.” He paused. “If you keep that in mind it will make getting over this a lot easier. We are just slates of grey, no evil or good people, yeah?”
“Okay.” She nodded. “I will try.”
Thanks for reading.
“Love of mine
This fortress in our heart
Comes crashing down” – Placebo ‘Kitty Killer’