I Don’t Much Like The Rain
This is a rewrite of something I first penned in 2004. Mind you, the core of it might be the same, but I have massively rewritten it.
I don’t much like the rain. I much prefer sunshine, but on this particular day I was outside walking across the drive to my car – in the rain.
It was Springtime. The air was relatively warm, and this rain I’m talking about was falling oh so gently down – almost small enough drops to float as they descended. But drops of rain they were, and I realised that in fact this rain was quite beautiful, welcomed even.
There was a faint background white-noise. It was being made by all the tiny raindrops falling onto all the juvenile unfurling leaves around. It was an almost imperceptible hiss, and it was breaking the wonderful silence of the wooded valley I live in. It was a mesmerising moment.
That sound became the critical ingredient that made an ordinary every-day event into something unique. Something special. Something transporting. Without that sound, the rain would have had no appeal to me, it would just have been another rainy day. But this, this brought the whole magic of the moment to my attention, and I stopped under the protection of the roof overhang to literally drink in the beauty of the experience. It really was exceedingly magical, but at the same time also a little eerie: I had a nervous feeling in my stomach. My senses were fully alert. Waiting. But for what?
Then, suddenly, it was as if everything I could sense was conjuring up the circumstance of something I had lived before. The rain, the sound, the smell in the air that I can’t really describe, it all reminded me of something from way back. Some mild, charming perfume. The feeling in my stomach. I lost myself in that moment as my mind took me back through a spiral of phantom imagery to seek the matching events; a time, a day, an experience, when I was much younger….
We both knew that this would be the last time we would meet. We had agreed. One last date. To say goodbye to one another.
I was nervous and excited at one and the same time as I turned the corner into her road, and my stomach felt almost sick as I pulled the car up in front of her parent’s house.
On the telephone, she had said that her parents would be at home, and as I turned off the engine she had already begun walking towards me down their front path. She was wearing what could have been a business suit: a navy jacket over a white blouse, with matching navy mini-skirt that emphasised those gorgeous legs! For a moment I was mesmerised by her. She had always had that power over me, but until we became lovers I hadn’t recognised that the whole magic of her had, all the time I’d known her, been conspiring… entrancing… entrapping me, so that at the very moment I first held her hand, first touched her, it felt as though it was an inevitable thing that could never have been avoided. Perhaps even preordained.
I got out of the car and opened the passenger door for her. I was going to kiss her cheek, but she whispered out of the corner of her mouth that her dad was watching from the upstairs window. We got in the car and simply drove away. It began to drizzle. Knowing this was a final meeting somehow made things out of place: The ease of being in one another’s company that we had come to know was replaced with a kind of formality. There was just the sound of the windscreen wipers sweeping slowly backwards and forwards across the screen. Normally we would have held hands, but it now seemed as though there was a barrier between us, and I found the lack of contact heartbreaking.
I remember it was a Sunday, ‘the day of rest’, with no shops or restaurants open. I didn’t know Rustington at all so as I finally approached the junction at the end of her road I asked, “Where to?” She replied, ‘Turn right’. I did, and then followed her instructions for the next five minutes or so. Pretty soon we exited the built-up areas and entered the countryside. Unexpectedly she told me to turn off the road. There was this place we found, amid the trees, down a country lane. A narrow track.
For a long while, we sat silent in the stationary car. It was still raining. Light drizzle. The windows began to mist up a little, so I wound down her window a little.
I was looking across at her profile, trying to imprint it indelibly in my mind, knowing that I loved her. Beyond her, through the part open window, I could hear the hiss of the rain on leaves. I could see drips of rain slipping off wet leaves; could see the leaves lift themselves when the weight of the rain was gone; see them lift themselves back up only to be wet again.
I tentatively reached for her hand. She turned to me, smiled, and said, ‘What took you so long?’ Oh that smile! With those words the formality was broken. We kissed, and were once again completely at ease with one another. Our passion was allowed to have free reign. We made long, beautiful, tender love. Honest, slow, immensly meaningful, and gentle.
After, there’s no getting away from it, our eyes were misted with tears. There was a painful lump in my throat, and a matching pain in my heart. She wanted to be back home by eight. The time was approaching.
I drove her home holding her hand for the most part of the journey, feeling her soft slender fingers intertwined with mine. Her Father was looking out of the window. Despite his obvious glare, we kissed; a slight, soft, slow blending of lips with the slightest final touching of tongues. Then she was gone. Lost to me for ever. I never heard from her again.
I wept like a baby all the way home.
Years later I heard she had emigrated to Australia. Alone, or not, I have no idea. But I have often wondered….
Anyway, my consciousness returned to the present; to my magical rainy day.
Nostalgic, eh? And if there is anything that I’m good at, at this point of my life, it is nostalgia! You don’t understand that? Oh well, you will. One day. It’ll probably be a day when somewhere, something, someone, makes you remember, lovingly, an event in your youth that you realize is lost to you for ever: Probably, as much as you will hate to admit to it, because you are ‘growing old’. Your turn will come.
So, there was I, my senses bewitched by this fine rain, when all of a sudden there was a loud CRACK. It shook me out of my state of blissful reminisce and quite made me jump. It was real violence in the otherwise peaceful scene of pastoral magic.
I looked to see if there was anyone around – perhaps a hunter with a rifle. But no, there was no sign of anyone else. I was on my own with the rain, the empty field alongside our house, and the trees.
While I was looking around, everything returned back as it was before the crack, the stillness, and the eerie hiss of the rain. But it was short-lived. The air became filled with a heart-rending groan. Believe me, I am not prone to be feared, but the hairs on the back of my neck really did stand on end! Starting low in volume and tone, and building gradually in strength, it bellowed, it roared, it echoed between the hill behind me and the one opposite on the other side of the field. As it reached a crescendo, I spotted the top of a tree on the hillside opposite, actually moving. Then the groan stopped and the speed of the movement increased as the tree began to fall, cracking branches on its way to the ground. Finally, before tranquility was once more restored, before the eerie hiss returned, there came the great ground shuddering thud as the tree hit the forest floor.
I had witnessed a death.
I was aware that everything had changed. There was one less companion in our valley. Nothing would ever be the same again.