The Rain Tells Stories
Morning is my favorite time, especially early in the morning, when it’s close to dawn but still dark. My favorite times are the days I don’t have to get out of bed. I can lay in bed, when it’s still dark, and listen to the rain. The rain beats heavily down upon the roof of my house. The lightening lights up the sky. The thunder rolls in such perfect synchrony. It’s like it’s rehearsed. It all makes me feel safe. It makes me feel safe from another day of routine. The daily stresses are not present, and it’s as if I’m in another world. Every time I wake up to a storm, such as this, it tells me a new story. It feels like the whole world is being washed away, like it’s being cleansed. It feels like new beginnings are happening around me, even though I can’t see them. I just sit and listen. It whispers to me things that I’ve imagined or envisioned, and this time, they’re real. I’m alone with my thoughts of leaving this town and who I could possibly be someday. I’m not running from anything. My parents have given me a good life, but I want something more than a small town in the South.
Today, it rained all day. That made me happy. Some people think rainy days are dreary; I think they’re beautiful. There have been days when I was angry the sun was out, and it wasn’t raining. Especially in summer. Every time we have a storm, my mama makes me stay indoors.
“You’re not going out in that rain,” she yells from the kitchen, as I stand looking out the front door.
“You just got your hair done, and I didn’t pay good money for it to frizz up in this weather,” she continues.
If I had it my way, I’d be dancing in the rain. I’d run down to the lake that sits in the middle of town that separates the haves from the have nots. The lake, besides the rain, has been my solace, since I was little. It always made me feel a sense of calm, just like the rain did. Once the storm was over, I ran as fast as I could to the lake. The water dripping from the trees into the water was a beautiful sight to see.
As I was off in wonder, sitting on the bench, I heard a voice from behind me:
“You shouldn’t be out here, alone, you know? Being a girl and all.”
I turn around and see a brown skinned young man behind me. He looked a little older than me. He was handsome, but you could tell he was a little rough around the edges. His clothes weren’t as neat or nearly as preppy as mine were. He must have come from the other side of the lake. I’ve never seen him on this side before. I had half of a mind to curse at him and send him on his way, but I was curious about him. Why is he here? I said to myself. I also didn’t want to put myself in any danger.
“Who are you and what did you say? Something about me being a girl”? I asked with an attitude. “And why is it any of your business?”
He laughed. He had a nice smile.
Every Saturday that spring and summer, we met at the lake, just to talk. He would always sit next to me on the bench and say, “What story did the rain tell you this time, Sadie?” We would talk about how different our lives were. I would talk about my hopes and dreams, and he would listen. I once asked him if he had any hopes and dreams.
“To stay alive” he answered.
I shared everything with him. He never told me much about himself. All I knew was that he was from the other side of the lake. He didn’t go to school often, and he had to “do what he had to do to survive.” I asked him if that meant doing things that were illegal. He didn’t respond. He was being raised by his older brother. He’s never known his dad, and his mom ran off years ago. He said it so matter-of-factly. It was as if it didn’t affect him.
“Does it bother you that you don’t have parents,” I asked one Saturday, as we sat together, eating sunflower seeds.
He shrugged and replied “Not really. We alright, I guess.”
I could never wrap my mind around how someone growing up in such a condition wouldn’t dream of a better life. As I grew older and wiser, I understood that maybe he wasn’t brought up to dream. Maybe he never knew what it felt like to dream.
One day I received some great news. I found out I got into an all girl’s college up north. I couldn’t wait to see my friend again this weekend, to tell him the good news.
That Saturday I went to the lake, but he wasn’t there. I figured maybe he would show up at some point. I just sat, feeling the breeze, and thinking about all the wonderful things I would do at college next year. I couldn’t wait to tell him. Even though he never had much to say, he enjoyed listening to me talk about my life. Hours had passed, and I realized he wasn’t going to show. I wasn’t sure if I felt sad or let down, but I was sure worried. I continued to go to the lake every Saturday for the rest of that summer, before I left for college. Each time I went, I waited for him to show, but he never did. I didn’t know where he lived or even his last name. I wouldn’t know where to begin to look, even if I could. Maybe he ran off in search of another life, or worse, he got caught doing “whatever he had to do.”
Soon, I left for college and had all those wonderful experiences I had dreamed of. I still loved the rain and still found spots in the city where the rain would whisper stories to me. I often thought about my friend at the lake and what his life was like now.
After I graduated from college and decided to attend graduate school in Washington, D.C., I went home to visit with mama and daddy for the summer, before my life got too busy. The day I arrived home it was a very hot 90 degrees out. As much as I loved the North, I missed the warm weather of the South. Later, after dinner, a storm came through. Much like when I was younger, I stood at the door, watching the rain fall. My mom yelled from the kitchen “I guess since you’re so against a press and curl now, it doesn’t matter if you run out in that rain or not!” She doesn’t agree with my choice to stop pressing my hair. “You’re right, mama, it will look just the same,” I replied with a light laugh. As soon as the rain slowed down, I ran down to the lake to watch the drops from the trees land in the water. I came upon the bench I sat on many times over my life, to sit and listen to the story the rain was going to tell. There was a man there. He was brown skinned, tall, and muscular. He stood and turned toward me. He was a little older and a little more handsome. He looked like life had hardened him a bit. He was dressed neatly and had a slight smile. I smiled. He then said, “What story did the rain tell you this time, Sadie”?