Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | October 29, 2009

Girl in the Rain Part I

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The first time I saw her it was three o’clock in the morning and she was standing in the rain.  It was late May, one of those warm spring downpours that falls in huge squishy drops turning the whole road into one big puddle.  I’d just graduated from high school and the parties were finally breaking up.  I’d only had one beer since I had to drive most of the guys home, so there was no way I was imagining the girl standing there in the driveway next door, hair plastered to her face, arms up in the air like she was trying to catch something.

I just slowed to a stop in front of my driveway, put the car in neutral, and stared.  The only people I’d ever seen next door before were the Cawleys who had to be about 87 years old and never did anything except watch their three beagles run around and crap in our yard.  I was worried, you know?  It took a moment before she turned.  I couldn’t really see her face, but I could tell she wasn’t happy to be caught in my headlights.  I hurriedly put the car back in gear and pulled into my driveway, doing one of those half-wave greetings that really means, yeah, I see you weirdo, why are you looking at me?  I tried not to glance back at her as I parked the car under the basketball hoop and waited for the garage door to open.  Engine off, parking brake, half a minute to get out the door and shut it again, ten feet at a sprint to the nice, dry garage and I was inside.  As far as I know, she was still standing there.  Weirdo, I thought again.

When I crawled out of bed at two the next day, Saturday, The girl was still on my mind.  I swear, she clawed her way into my dreams!  I got dressed thinking how the first day of being a high school graduate was pretty anticlimactic.

“Do the Cawely’s have kids?”  I asked my mom.  She sat at the kitchen table reading a book on the social behavior of four-year-olds. She was taking classes for her degree in childhood education, which was weird since your mom’s not supposed to go to college at the same time you do.  Well, I obviously wasn’t in college yet, but I’d been accepted to St Anselm’s.  Mom looked up after a few moments—her eyes looked more wrinkled today, I thought.

“What was that you said?  These psychological studies have my head swimming!  Would you believe they did this experiment entirely involving the way four-year-olds stack blocks?”  She paused for effect, “You were back late last night, by the way, good party?”

“Yeah, a bunch of the guys were there.  Ryan and Jeff had to leave early.  They both have work this morning already.  I was just asking if the Cawley’s have kids.  I saw this girl over there last night, really strange, just standing in the rain.”  I poured myself a bowl of frosted mini-wheats as I spoke, and sat down across the table.

“They’ve got a few kids, I think, but they’d all be in their forties by now.  Oh, wait!  Sandy Trilotti was telling me the other day in class that they have a granddaughter staying with them for the summer.  Her parents went to Europe or something.  I’m not really sure, though.  Is she pretty?”  She looked at me with that penetrating look only moms can produce.

“Mom!  She’s a friggin’ weirdo.  Standing in the rain at 3 am?  She probably came from a mental home or something.  Maybe they sent her out here thinking rural life would calm her down or something, but really she’s going to murder us all in our sleep and the guys who made Blair Witch will have to come up here and make another sequel.”

“Anthony!”  My mother was the only one who ever called me that.  To everyone else I was “Ant,” but my mom insisted that she named me Anthony because she liked the whole name, how it sounded like poetry or something.  Does an eighteen-year-old guy want a name that sounds like poetry?  Of course not.

Anyway, I wasn’t really interested in the girl.  Just curious.  Curious enough that I actually decided to talk to her.  I mean, I was bored.  I had a job at the local video store, but since everyone from school worked at either the video store or Friendly’s, we never had days off at the same time.  It was a Thursday afternoon and I wanted to go somewhere, do something.  I was still feeling pretty rich.  See, high school graduation is the only gift-giving occasion where you can just reach into your wallet, pull out twenty bucks, and hand it over inside some cheesy card that basically says, hey man, have a nice life.  And I knew that the 250 dollars I made off of various relatives and neighbors would only buy one semester’s worth of textbooks, so all the better reason to spend it all now having fun.

There were plenty of other girls from my senior class I could have talked to.  Unfortunately, my town’s pretty small, so I know them all.  I know they’ve all slept with some combination of my best friends, and that just weirds me out.  Besides, the only relationship I ever had ended after two weeks.  Really, I’m not bad looking, but I guess I’m too intense for girls.  That’s what Cindy said, at least, said I scared her or something.  If there’s anything I’d call myself, scary is not it.  I’m exactly one inch under six feet (which is as annoying as hell), with hair that looks like a dark brown mop someone attached to my head.  If I cut it, it grows back in a week, so I just let it grow long and attempt to keep it contained by squashing it under a baseball cap.

So I needed somewhere to go, and there was the girl again, outside in the Cawley’s front yard watching one of the beagles run around the yard like it was on acid or something.  Now that I was looking at her in the daytime with dry clothes on, I noticed that she wasn’t that bad looking.  She was definitely weird, though.  She wore one of those tiny black leather skirts over blue leggings, a t-shirt advertising some obscure rock band, and the most worn out pair of sneakers I have ever seen.  More amazing than her outfit, though, was her hair.  It was this insane shade of red, like one of those drug store dye jobs, only it seemed to change color when she moved.  I wondered why I hadn’t noticed it before.  A color like that would be visible even through a torrential downpour in the middle of the night.  I figured she’d done it recently.

I walked nonchalantly over towards the row of short bushes separating out two yards,

“Hey,”  I said.  It was not the best opening line, but I was still staring at the hair.  Volcanic red, I guessed.

“Hello,” she replied, but only after turning and scrutinizing me for a few minutes.  She looked straight into my eyes, not like most people who just glance around while they talk.  What the..?  Her eyes are purple! I quickly looked away,

“What did you feed him this morning?”  I asked, gesturing towards the dog, who was currently attempting to climb a tree in pursuit of a squirrel.  Each jump resulted in the dog sprawled at the base of the tree and the squirrel chattering away in the branches, having the time of his life.

“I have no idea,” she said, “If he were my dog, I’d teach him to hunt for his own food.”

“Yeah, what kind of dog can’t even intimidate a squirrel?”  We both laughed as the squirrel climbed halfway down the tree, taunting the poor yapping beagle.  Her laugh was low and musical, with this intense effect that was sort of like the feeling you get in your chest when you turn a sub all the way up.

“I’m Ant,”  I said, and held out my hand over the bushes.  She walked over without looking at her feet at all, just stared right ahead at me.

“Eve.”

“So, uh, I guess I’m your neighbor this summer.”  It was a pretty idiotic thing to say, but it’s hard to think when two purple eyes are focused on your forehead like radar.

“Yeah.  I’ve seen you.  I can see your living room from my room downstairs.”  She gestured back towards the Cawley’s house, and I noticed a room with dark purple curtains, and figured those must be hers.  Kinda of freaked me out, though, that she’d been watching me play Sega every night for the past week.  “You don’t come outside very often,” she continued.

“Well, there’s not much to do out here.”  I remembered playing baseball every summer as a kid.  Now all the guys were either working or lazing around, watching TV, playing video games.  Wasn’t much else to do, really.

“Maybe you need to look harder.” She paused for a minute, like she was listening to something, then crouched down beside the low, squared-off bushes and touched one of the leaves, “They don’t make a very good fence, and the plants aren’t very happy.”

“Um, I never knew plants could be happy.”

“Anything can be happy or sad.  You just have to know how to look. Here, see this leaf?  It’s cut in half.  The edge is all brown and sad.  You can tell, can’t you?”  This was probably my cue to say something like, Nice to meet you, say hi to the men in white coats for me, dash off into my house, and amuse myself with video games for the rest of the afternoon, but the sheer immensity of boredom I had accumulated over the week outweighed natural instinct.  I sort of shook my head and tried to come up with some way to change the subject,

“So, where are you from?”

“England.”  She shrugged.

“Really?  You don’t have an accent.”

“I know.  I was born in Washington DC, grew up all over the place.  I only said England because that’s where our most recent house was.”

“Was?”

“Well, my parents are out searching for our next house right now.  They didn’t want me on my own all summer.  I don’t see how it matters since I never see them at all, anyway.”  I couldn’t tell if she was angry or just sad, she had drained all emotion from her voice.  She still looked straight at me, though.

“Yeah?  Well I never see my dad.  He lives somewhere in Canada.  Hasn’t talked to my mom or me in fifteen years.”

“Some guys are assholes,” she said.

I had no idea why I had just told her about my dad.  I never talked about him, not even to my best friends.

“So, um, I’m a guy, too, you know,” I said, grinning nervously.

“Well, you have yet to show me that you’re the good kind.  Guilty until proven innocent, you know?”  We both laughed again.

“Want to go somewhere?”  she said suddenly. “I only have to watch the dog for another ten minutes.”  She smiled, and I wondered if she’d read my mind.

“Sure.  Where do you want to go?”

“Well, I don’t know the town that well, but I was wondering if there were any nice ponds.”  I had been thinking more along the lines of lunch at the mall or something, but sure, finding a pond could be fun.  At least it would be something to do.

“Um, there’s the one we all used to skate on in the winter, out behind the town hall.  I guess it’s nice.  I haven’t been there in a few years.”

Part II

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  1. […] Part I […]


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