The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Fiction
CLARITY AFTER RAINFALL.
As he crossed the road and headed
in her direction, she saw the unashamed, unafraid smile splashed
across his face, and lit up inside.
yet heard what he was so pleased about or proud of or had found so hilarious.
He hadnt spoken; he hadnt yet encompassed her in his all-consuming
hug. But it didnt matter. That matchless grin meant that something
was making him happy, had elevated his esteem, or amused him.
That illuminated her from the inside out.
It had been raining torrentially all morning, catching her just as she
had left the house at the crack of dawn, soaking the bottom half of
her jean-clad legs. As she had sat at a table in the empty seminar room
reading, the hood of her sodden coat had left her with a wet-patch on
one butt cheek. It still wasnt dry, come to think of it. How much
more heat could a person apply before denim caved in, goddammit?
The reading shed done had been arduous and unnecessary- in class
the group had discussed five poems she hadnt covered yet. The
sausage and cheese baguette shed ordered to keep her energy up
as she trawled through literary works had been all cheese and no sausage.
Someone had asked her if shed realised shed pissed herself.
After spending some time crawled up in a damp ball on a squeaking chair
at a wobbly desk in the overcrowded library next to some chatty foreign
students for two hours, she had decided her day ought to be done, and
headed home. The rain had stopped. A boy on a bike had caught her toe
and made her squeal as he cycled past. A few steps later, she realised
she shouldnt walk so near to the edge of the pavement after a
passing vehicle sprayed her with puddle-water. It had left her smelling
Above her, the clouds had begun to rumble ominously again. The shadows
of miserable weather were following her smugly home, and that was still
half an hour or so away. And her housemate had called this a short cut!
She had just walked past someone peering into a badly lit shop window
and pinched their arse with a giggle. How was she to know that her friend
Stevie from her seminar last term wasnt the only person with a
penchant for American football team jackets and grubby blonde shoulder-length
hair? That old woman had called her something she hadnt even realised
people over the age of fifty knew.
Leaving the shocking pensioner way behind, she had bumped into a person
even more unexpected. Embarrassingly, it had been an actual bump. Elbows
had clattered and shoulders had jarred as one clumsy girl encountered
a peer with even worse co-ordination skills. Following two loud exclamations
of "Oi" and also "Jesus Christ", theyd realised
they recognised each other. She had felt her face flush, and her annoyance
at herself had only heightened the crimson coating of her makeup-less
features. The girl she knew cleared her throat.
"Hey, sorry about that."
"No sorry it was me."
"No, its me and this hood, its like having blinkers on or
whatever, my arms just
One of those awful silences where her stomach gripped.
"So you off home?"
"Mm, yeah, been in the library most of the day."
"Oh, yeah, me too, surprised
well, funny I didnt see
"Yeah. Well, I dunno, I guess wed be on different floors
"Oh, yeah, yeah we would anyway."
its starting to rain again anyway so
"Yeah, it is, Id better
"Me too, better get going."
"See you later then."
"See you then, cheers."
Shed turned away and overstepped so that her boot heel skidded
down the edge of the kerb, causing her to make this bizarre spine-jerk
which prevented her collapsing but knocked down completely any sense
of aloofness and dignity. She cursed under her breath, recycling the
previously encountered pensioners choice of obscenity, aiming
it at floor, weather, Clumsy Girl and, most heatedly, at herself.
One of these days, shed promised, I will walk down a street without
a care in the world. Essays incomplete, hair wild, coat trashed, hands
full, feet saturated, day spent less than productively, strangers impressed,
enemies ignored, friends adoring, demeanour cool, unashamed, unafraid,
walking home without a care in the world.
But for right there and then, one of her cares was on the opposite side
of the road, stopping, skipping almost, safely negotiating the vehicles
and coming towards her. There had been a few days in the past where,
if in this same situation, he may not have stopped. He may have merely
risen a hand, politely, perhaps slowed his pace a little tentatively,
not knowing what was the best thing to do.
And she might have returned the courteous gesture, might have mirrored
his uncertain stance, and then quickened her step with stiff shoulders
and an indignant air. All the desires, touches, spoken and unspoken
words, frustrations, inadequacies, faded feelings, accusations, demands,
fears, tears, arguments and apologies filling the gulf between them
back then. The gulf that had weighed him down and torn her apart.
But right now, there and then, after those days and other days of forgiving,
understanding, releasing and rebuilding, it was only sweet history and
a line of cars lying between them.
He was so free. It struck her every time she saw his beautiful face.
That as yet unexplained smile made her heart bloom. It didnt,
and wouldnt, ever matter if he was pleased, proud or amused because
of a reason other than her, ever again- she realised that as he sprung
towards her and smothered her in a hugely warm, hugely genuine, hugely
platonic embrace. All she cared about was that he always had a reason
to smile like that. He should never be on the other side of a gulf,
standing heavy, guilty, looking at her with sorrowful eyes, and a mouth
They stood in the gradually building rain as he told her his reason.
She beamed back her happiness at his happiness, without another care
in the world.
© Lauren Almey November 2005
had longed to believe in monsters...
Fiction in Dreamscapes
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