Rain on the Blacktop
Rain sheeted down, wetting the window panes. On the street outside, cars splashed through puddles. It was a melancholy day. A day for sitting fireside with tea and books and company. But she had no fireplace or chimney, no logs to burn. Her house was too dark and quiet to be cheery. The books on the shelves, the dishes stacked and clean, all her possessions jostled her elbows, pressing closer and closer. She felt claustrophobic and caged. So she locked her front door and walked, charging up and down hills.
Gentle raindrops exploded against her face. Water rilled around her shoes, splatted on her coat. The clouds hung low, bearing down on her shoulders. But at least the air flooded clean and cool. She walked, following the turning of the streets, looking at the houses with their blinded windows, the weak gleam of streetlights, the bright water drops lining branches and leaves.
Rain soaked her jeans at thigh and hem, clinging to her skin. She shivered, pressed her lips together, and followed the blacktop further. She’d hoped to find something out here. A bit of cheer, a voice. Wouldn’t it be nice, she thought, if I met another meandering soul while I walked? Someone driven outdoors like me? Wanting someone to talk to? Even a smile would be nice, or a dog’s head to pat, fluff flattened by rain.
But no one else appeared on the streets. Once, she saw a figure far ahead, hunched and hurrying. But they soon disappeared indoors.
Still, she kept her hopes up. Each corner held promise. Each new street thrummed with possibilities. She walked and walked and walked. Then she shook her head, blinked at the sky. Sentimental fool. Go home. There’s nothing to find.
Just a bit further, she decided. Something might still happen. A child running out of a house with a ball, willing to grin at a rain-drenched stranger. A car losing traction, smashing against a pole, bursting into flames. She’d save the driver, accompany him to the hospital, sit by his side like a guardian angel.
She laughed at herself, mouth open wide to catch raindrops. Then she took a short route back to her house, let herself in, stripped off her jeans. She chucked them in the dryer and made herself tea. She padded around barefoot in her underwear, put on music, danced a little. After a while she settled on the couch under an afghan. She plucked a book off the shelves, ran her hand over the worn cover, and cracked it open to read.