By the Rain

A creative writing piece about betrayal and walking into the storm

“You win!”

Steam would usually be pouring from her ears, red-faced and ticked off beyond reason, but April is a helpless mouse compared to the feral cat she exhibits on a day-to-day basis. Her hands rub at the goosebumps on her forearms and the corners of her lips curl into a dampened smile. The fierce look of a bald eagle lay dead in her hollow, lapis eyes. My hand reaches out, hesitating to ground her with a hand on her shoulder.

“I’m not—” jaw clenching, I reach for words. Our eyes never leave each other’s. “I’m not trying to take him away from you.”

No, that was never my intention. She was supposed to effectively take her crown and scepter back after I confessed to her boy, and he was supposed to fall for her charms all over again. He wasn’t supposed to put her in her place and return my feelings. Everything is wrong.

Her head ducks pitifully, rocking from side to side almost idly. This isn’t April Jenkins. April Jenkins would never give in to her fears, much less show them to me. Her chin is usually held as high as her ponytail, her temper short as her crop tops. Instead of bothering to speak with me here, to apologize to a lowlife like me, she’d be stabbing me in the stomach with the dagger of her heel. Her imposter is cowering away from me, wiping furiously at her tears, the last of her pride slipping through her fingers.

Her eyes mirror the look I wore on my first day here, staring at the tile floor and wondering when it’ll end, and my knees go weak. My skirt feels too short and my shirt is too tight. My leather jacket is restricting, and the zipper is blinding in what little light there is. Rain beats the aluminium roof just outside the main office doors, a crack of thunder echoing my heartbeat. I can’t remember the last time I saw the sun; the sky is always gray with rain. Cotton fills my throat and butterflies beat against my stomach walls. I realize then that she’s wearing my ratty sneakers and my feet have squeezed into her tallest heels. I’m horribly out of place.

“It’s okay,” she says, straightening her back a bit, an attempt to regain her composure. Mascara runs down her red cheeks in a marathon of misery. “This is how it’s meant to be. I can’t keep my crown forever. Take it. I don’t need it anymore.”

“What does that even mean?”

Sticking her hands into her pockets, she sighs, sweeping her eyes over me as if she’s bored with the conversation, before quirking her unpainted lips into a small smirk, the last glimpse of her true self she gives me. April steps back; one step, two steps. Her black heels give a low click on the tile as she slowly turns her back to me, every drag of her feet taking her further and further away from me. When she puts a couple more feet between us, I finally find myself, rushing forward as she approaches the barrier that keeps the rain out.

“Wait! Where are you going?” I gasp. She stops and turns to me again, giving me an inconvenienced look.

“Why do you care?” she spits, a mascara tear landing on the collar of her shirt. My outstretched hands curl into my chest, wilting a little.

I don’t know why I’m so concerned. Whether she’s walking metaphorically or literally out of my life, I shouldn’t care. I’m like a fish out of water, scrambling for words when I finally sputter, “Without an umbrella?”

It’s then that the rain becomes so apparent. She clicks her tongue. Without answering, she continues her journey, her steps confident as she strides directly into the storm. Finally, she walks out from under the aluminium roof, looking up into the rain. Color seeps from her very being; her blonde hair goes white, tan skin going grey, her fingertips crying color. Every hue in her body pools at her feet in the most bizarre sight. Her entire being begins to dissolve as if she is salt. April becomes smaller and smaller until she is a puddle of color being swept away by the wind, by the rain.