He was easily the most selfish man in the world.


Petrichor gave an English name to a word I had already known. In Tamil (my Mother tongue), the word for petrichor is manvasanai. It is one of my favorite scents in the world because it reminds me of new beginnings.

However, with every new beginning, there is also an ending.

Thank you. I hope you enjoy!  


The Impossibility of Pinning Down Clouds

Petrichor (n): the earthy scent created when rain falls on dry soil

Jay could smell the ozone in the air before the storm hit.

It was sharp, like the world was taking a deep breath it hadn’t let go of yet.

It would rain later that night. The water droplets would wash away everything, leaving the world glistening with dew in the morning.

But Jay would leave with the rain.

“This seems like a horrible joke…”

“I can assure you it’s not.”

They went to the fair together.

The alternating pools of flashing light, the sparkling trinkets and baubles, and the swirling music spinning above it all felt a world away.

“Nathan use to tell me cotton candy was made of pieces of pinned down clouds,” she told him.

“I could see him doing that,” he replied with a laugh. “I bet you believed him too.”

“How could I not? It seemed like something straight out of a storybook. Having clouds dissolve on the tip of your tongue.”

He laughed, pulling off another wispy puff from her cone.

“Stop stealing from me, Jay!” she huffed.

“Or what?”

“I’ll… I’ll…”

He laughed. “Haven’t thought that far ahead yet? C’mon, Em, I expected better from you. Is there a witty comeback on the tip of your tongue? Oh, wait. I forgot that’s reserved for the dissolving clouds- mph!”

Jay found a wad of cotton candy suddenly stuffed into his mouth, cramming it shut.

She was already walking ahead in a miffed huff.

He watched her move farther and farther away from him, colorful reflections and patterns sliding across her back.

His heart ached with something painful.

Damn it, Jay. Get it together!

Warm, worried eyes were suddenly peering up at him.

She was back.

“Oh my gosh, are you okay? I’m so sorry, Jay! I was just messing around with you. Did I-”

“You did nothing,” he interrupted, unable to hear any more. He angrily swiped at his moistening eyes. “Let’s keep going. I want to try the ring toss.”

“Is there a way to slow it down?”

“Nothing concrete, but we’ll keep looking. Do you need us to inform any—”

“No. Nobody. Don’t… Don’t tell anybody about this.”

The deluge started earlier than expected.

“We didn’t even get to ride the Ferris wheel,” Emilia complained.

“We knew it was going to rain tonight.”

“I thought it would start later. Or at least after we rode the Ferris wheel…”

“You’re oddly specific about the Ferris wheel. What? Did you want to kiss at the top, like they do in all the movies?”

She looked away, not replying.

“No way. You did.”

“Shut up.”

They raced to the parking lot, splashing through puddles that still reflected the myriad of colored, floating lights from the fair.

When they had squeezed into the car, she suddenly leaned forward, pressing their damp foreheads together.

She smelled like the rain, clad in the faint fragrance of cherry blossoms and the earthy scent of upturned soil.

Their eyes met.

“Promise me.”

Jay felt his chest constrict in surprise, because had she found out- did she know- what if—

“Promise me we’ll come back next year and ride the Ferris wheel together.”

He exhaled a shuddery breath. Oh.

“If you want,” he replied, his voice a strange, gravely mixture of relief, disappointment, and guilt.

He was easily the most selfish man in the world. 

“Promise me,” she pleaded, her voice tinged with an emotion he couldn’t recognize.

Maybe something in her knew, like he did.

Knew the impossibility of pinning down clouds and counting all of the stars in the sky.

“Tell it to me straight, doc. How much longer do I have left? Years? Months?”

The doctor gazes at him with something like pity. “Weeks.”

Jay promises.

But it’s the kind of promise he can’t keep.

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