a story about rain
There are people in this story, but I think it's really about the rain. I've always liked rain, the way it has different faces. A sunny day is a sunny day, but rain, well, it's multiple-personality sort of weather. And Cassie likes the rain, too. Look, we can see her now, not hurrying at all to get out of the quick summer downpour that's making everyone else scurry. She has her head tilted back, meandering more than walking along the busy five o'clock street, catching raindrops in her mouth. It's something that perhaps she did as a child, but then again, memories of childhood are often imaginings, dreams, and inventions, so maybe she's never done this before. That's what she's thinking as cold rain shocks her tongue, and it might explain the thrill she's getting from it.
Ike hates the rain. Always has. Ike hates everything about his new life in England: the uninteresting football; the unattractive girls; the inedible food. But most of all he hates the rain, the infinite variety of it, the greasy feel of it on his face, the smell of it as it dries on the sidewalk (pavement, for God's sake!) and the look of it, the way drops slide down the grey opacity of his apartment's tiny windows. So Ike is with the scurriers today. Ike wants to be inside, anywhere, and not wet.
So Cassie and Ike, they're going to bump into each other, right? I mean she's got her head held back, lost in the strangely cementy taste of the raindrops, and Ike's moving too quickly to notice her, desperate for shelter. Some things in this world are just meant to happen, and this is one of them.
Oops! There they go! Didn't look too painful, but they're bound to be a little embarrassed. Let's watch.
"Jesus! Why don't you people look where you're going?" yells Ike, Americanly.
"You're an American," says Cassie.
"What the hell were you doing?"
"I wasn't looking where I was going. Sorry." Cassie always does this when faced with a man she doesn't know. She pretends to be about fifteen and a little more stupid than she actually is. And they immediately like her. It's always worked so well that it's no longer a conscious decision. It just happens, every time.
"Listen. Don't worry about it." Ike's looking at Cassie properly now, and his embarrassment subsides as he realises how good she looks with wet cheeks.
"I was catching raindrops," says Cassie.
Ike just stares.
"In my mouth," she says. "Like this." She tilts back her head, opens her mouth. Less than a second passes before a raindrop hits her tongue. The shiver and the little "oohh" she lets out are only slightly exaggerated for Ike's benefit. She straightens up and smiles a wet smile at Ike.
"What does it taste like?"
Ike frowns at her.
"But it's not so much the taste of it I like, as the feel of it," says Cassie, quickly. "Try it." She pushes Ike lightly on the arm.
Ike is smiling.
Ike is looking at Cassie's eyes.
Ike has forgotten that he hates the rain.
Suddenly, his head is back, his mouth is open, and he's waiting, waiting, waiting, then there! It hits his tongue. He shivers. His "oohh" is a little less drawn out than Cassie's was, a little lower-pitched, but entirely spontaneous. He tilts his head downwards, smiling, sucking, swallowing all at once.
And she's gone, of course.
He looks through the rushing people and spots her immediately, head back, meandering slowly away from him. He has a taste of rain in his mouth, and it is, he thinks, as he watches her slowly walk away, strangely reminiscent of cement. His final thought, before he ducks into the bookshop he was heading towards when we first spotted him, is how the hell does anyone know what cement tastes like, anyway?
Cassie, on the other hand, is thinking of America. Strange, that she should bump into an American that way. Cassie has always wanted to go to America, even if sometimes at night she wonders whether she has ever really wanted to do anything at all, apart from lie on the couch with ice cream and the TV for company. Still, this must be a sign, is what she is thinking.
America, is what she is thinking.
Ike's already inside the bookshop, reading the blurb on a discounted paperback; Cassie's almost at the bus stop; the rain is getting heavier.
And I don't know if Ike will stay in England any longer just because he knows that the rain tastes like cement, and that not every girl is completely unattractive, and I don't know if Cassie will ever get to America.
But I do know how much I like the rain.
Copyright 2006 by Jason Jackson