Deluge

Laughter exploded from his lips like a sudden cloudburst.

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Deluge reminds me of the word delusion, which honestly has nothing to do with this story.      

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The Rain in Araluen

Deluge (n): downpour

It was raining, and August had forgotten his umbrella.

He waited on the steps, watching water droplets shatter on slippery asphalt.

When he was younger, he and his mother used to dance in the rain. Twirling and spinning, splashing and sloshing around.

They had lived in Araluen then. The “city of a thousand downpours.” It rained there every other day. All the stores carried umbrellas for the patrons in case an unexpected shower hit.

The only month that stayed dry was his namesake.

The rain here was different. It was colder, lonelier. Like a sheet of arrows piercing the ground. It was fierce and August didn’t like it.

He would wait. It had to stop eventually.

Trekking back in, he took off his glasses to wipe away the fog.

In some villages in Honduras, it rained fish. It was a rare phenomenon. Everyone spoke of it in awe— it was a marvel, a wonder, a miraculous thing.

But August had always wondered: what happened to the fish?

He imagined them drowning in an endless ocean of oxygen.

Marooned in shrinking puddles. Flopping on the baking, dried up earth.

August pitied those fish.

(Maybe he saw something of himself in them.)

They were getting a new transfer student, which was odd since it was already halfway through the year. He wondered if they would be able to adjust so late?

Well, it didn’t really make a difference to him any way.  

He had to get to practice soon. They were going to perform The Nutcracker soon, and he still had to get the pas de deux down.

This rain was ruining everything.

He stepped outside again, deciding to make a run for it, when he saw someone beside him on the steps, clutching a wide, black umbrella in her hand.

She stared at him curiously.

He stumbled on the step, tumbling down the remaining few.

Luckily, it was a clean fall. Nothing appeared injured. Unluckily, it was a messy landing, and he was wallowing in muddy rain water.

He realized the girl was crouching beside him. Her hair was cut into choppy layers that gave her features a somewhat sharp angle. Her eyes were pale, but piercing.

“Did you forget your umbrella?”

He scoffed, taking off his glasses to get the mud off them. He realized a second later that cleaning them with his sodden clothes wasn’t really having much of an effect.

“And if I did?”

The girl foisted the black umbrella towards him. He grabbed it instinctively.

“My aunt’s picking me up. You can borrow mine.”

August looked up in surprise.

“Just don’t forget to return it.” She began walking back up the steps, uncaring of the torrents pounding into her.

“Wait! Which homeroom are you in?” August asked.

“Mr. Jackson’s,” the girl said without missing a beat.

“I’ve never seen you before.”

Suddenly, the girl seemed hesitant. She glanced back over her shoulder.

“I’m new,” she said.

 

August knew he shouldn’t. The same way he knew he shouldn’t jump the fence on his way to school. He did it anyway.

 

“Hi, New. Nice to meet you.”

The girl gaped at him. “Did you just?”

Laughter exploded from his lips like a sudden cloudburst.

“I take it back. Give me my umbrella right now,” the girl said, covering her mouth with her hand.

August laughed even harder.

“I’m being serious.”

 

She wasn’t. August could hear the smile in her voice even if her eyes looked fierce.

 

“My name is Zoey,” she finally introduced once August had stopped laughing.

“August,” he replied.

A white car pulled up along the side of the street.

“That’s my aunt,” Zoey said quietly.

“Oh, umm, bye?” August said waving.

Zoey stopped for a moment to glare fiercely at him. “You better bring my umbrella tomorrow. I’m trusting you with it, okay?”

“Okay,” August quickly agreed to get the glaring to stop.

She softened.

“I’ll… umm… I’ll see you then,” she said awkwardly.

“See you,” August agreed.

He stood up with a wince, feeling the scrape on his knee. It was nothing serious— it looked much worse than it actually was. He felt a bit like the fish in Honduras. Breathless and flailing around awkwardly.

Zoey seemed to be looking at him with something like concern in her eyes. He waved, and she turned around, getting into the vehicle.

She was an odd contradiction of soft edges and sharp corners. A little unpredictable, but certainly not unkind.

August didn’t know what it was, but he found he liked her.

 

(Maybe it was because she reminded him of the rain in Araluen.)

 

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