Posted by: Kathryn Hulick | October 30, 2009

Girl in the Rain Part II

Waterville, ME. May 9, 2003.

5-9-03 across pond, pink and yellow light on water !

Part I

We wound up walking the whole mile from my house to town and then up to the pond.  I offered to drive, but Eve insisted on walking.  She wasn’t impressed by the muddy, polluted water of the skating pond, so we walked another mile following a small stream through the woods until we found a much larger pond surrounded by impressive pines and a few small maples.  Lily pads floated on the surface around the edges, and it looked like a beaver had built a lodge in the center.  Eve was overjoyed; I was miserable.   Somehow, in her skirt and leggings, she’d managed to move more quickly and efficiently through the woods than me.  I’d been scratched by branches, my right foot was soaking wet and muddy from the time I tripped and stepped in the stream, and I was out of breath from trying to keep up with her.  But my pride kept me from making any number of sarcastic comments as Eve sat on a fallen tree by the pond, smiling.

That wasn’t the only time we made the trek out through the woods to that pond.  We walked there at least once a week, and each time I got a little bit better at stepping over logs and rocks, and picking my way through the underbrush.  I couldn’t have told you then why I kept hanging out with her.  The guys figured I had a crush and left me alone.  I was adamant that I didn’t like her.  I mean, when you’re 18, you admit it to your friends when you like someone.  Though I thought she was pretty, I didn’t want her that way.  It was more of an exotic snake kind of pretty.  Fascinating and scary at the same time.  There was definitely something about her that caught my curiosity.  Something unusual that had nothing to do with her volcanic hair, violet eyes, strange outfits, or bizarre conversation topics.  Even now, though, I couldn’t really put a finger on it.  It was just these things that happened when she was around.

Like the deer incident that happened maybe the third or fourth time we hiked out to the pond.  The doe was standing off to our right in a clearing, and I wouldn’t have even seen her if Eve hadn’t suddenly stopped and pointed her out.  Even then, it took me five minutes for me to separate the tawny body from the yellow-green light of the forest.  I was ready to say, That was neat and keep walking, but Eve whispered for me to stand still and started moving towards the deer.  I say moving, because she definitely wasn’t walking.  She crept through the forest, making only as much noise as a slight breeze.  She was wearing pale colors today, greens and browns, like she knew she would have to blend in.  All I could see of her by the time she made it to the clearing was her bright red hair.  The doe was still standing there, like nothing was happening.  Eve just crept up to the animal.  She didn’t sneak, that wouldn’t have worked, just moved forwards until the doe looked up.  The deer didn’t run, just reached her neck forwards and sniffed at Eve’s hair.  Then Eve reached out and petted the deer’s head between the ears, just like it was a dog or horse or something!  My muscles were getting sore from standing there frozen in one position, so I shifted a little bit and sat down.  I didn’t think it made much noise, but the deer startled and danced away into the woods.  Eve came running back,

“You scared her!”

“Sorry, I had to move.  I was standing still for, like, ten minutes straight!”

“That’s ok, I was saying good-bye.  She has a baby to take care of, anyway.”

“What?”

“Well, the fawn’s almost ready to be on its own, but she’s still teaching it some things.”

“How do you know all this?”  I knew I shouldn’t ask her things like that.  Eve was always telling me how trees felt, how the pond was doing that day.  Her answers always left me more confused, but I asked anyway,

“Her eyes, I guess.  You just look, and it’s there.”  Eve shrugged.

“What’s there?  And why wasn’t she scared of you?”

“I guess she knew me.  I look for that knowledge.  Everything knows everything else, Ant.  People just have so much ego built up on top of the instinct that they forget.”

“What, you going to be a psychologist, or something?”

“No, I’m going to art school.  I told you.”

“You’re not going anywhere.  You didn’t apply.”  We’d had this discussion before.  Eve insisted she was going to RISD in the fall, but she hadn’t applied anywhere, and hadn’t even really finished high school.  She was supposed to be taking summer classes right now at the local community college, but she never went.  She always got mad when I brought up her education.  She thought I was just going along with the flow, not thinking about what I was doing.  Society expected me to go to college after high school, so I went.  She lectured me for an hour once about how I would graduate in four years, get married, work in some cubicle, have a baby, and spend the rest of my life driving to and from work never really taking any time to live.  I asked her how she expected to make any money if she never went to school, and she gave me the worst look I ever got from a girl.  I didn’t usually bring it up.  This time, she didn’t give me the horrible look, only smiled,

“You’ll see.  You don’t always have to follow the rules.  People aren’t that smart, really.”  I got the same kind of cryptic answers whenever I asked about her parents, or her life before this summer.  I mean, my life hasn’t been that interesting, but at least I have stories to tell.  Everyone does.  The time you cut your thumb open with a pocketknife, the time you actually saw Adam Sandler in real life, the time your friend laughed all his Mountain Dew out of his nose and eyes.  You’d figure Eve would have even better stories since she’s lived all over the world.  But I’d tell her my stories and she’d just stare, or ask things like, “Who’s Adam Sandler?” I sometimes wonder how we ever managed to carry on conversations at all.  My mom thought it was hilarious.  She’d listen to us talking in my living room, the few times we actually stayed inside, and she’d ask me later how the “Blair witch project” was coming along.  I’d just shrug and find something to eat.

One night I had to work at the video store until ten, but got stuck there until 10:30 while this guy and his wife tried to decide whether to go with James Bond or Robert Redford.  She won, of course, and I finally got to lock up and go home.  It was raining again, just this disgusting slow drizzle.  I wasn’t really paying attention as I pulled into my driveway, so I had to slam on the brakes when I realized Eve was standing right in front of the car.  It hadn’t rained much since that first night I saw her – had been almost draught conditions, I guess.  I thought it was pretty nice to have a summer without much rain.

“Whoa!  What’re you doing standing in my driveway?”  I grinned, sticking my head out the window into the misty air.

“Hello!  Isn’t it great?”  She spun around in a circle, damp clothes sticking to her sides, and I wondered if she was referring to something she was wearing or the weather.  With her, it could be anything.

“Well, I’ll come out and talk to you if you let me park.  Or you could come sit in the car.  It’s nice and dry in here.”  I knew she would never get in the car.  We’d walked absolutely everywhere this summer – usually to that damned pond, but sometimes to a café or even once to an art gallery (I still can’t believe she dragged me into an art gallery).  Everywhere we went, Eve insisted on walking.  My calf muscles were much improved after that summer.  So I didn’t really wait for an answer, just turned to park as Eve danced out of the way.

“It’s just like the world’s being born!”  Eve shouted when I climbed out of the car.

“More like it’s sweating, I think”  I commented, adjusting my baseball cap to try to keep the rain out of my eyes.

“Come here!”  She laughed and dragged me around to the back of my house.  As usual, I had no idea what was going on as she pointed excitedly.  My mom’s garden was behind the house, a fairly wild collection of plants, weeds, vegetables, and anything that could gain a roothold.  My mom loved gardens, but couldn’t bear to rip anything out if it was even the slightest bit interesting.  As a result, our garden was more of a miniature jungle.  Out of the midst of the green chaos, a single largish, flat leaf projected over the grass.

“This is a Hasta leaf.  See how the rain’s collecting in the middle?  It’s got just the right balance to hold the water!”  The rest of the plant was obscured under something else, the leaves tiny and starved for sun.  This one leaf was at least four times larger than the rest.  Eve took it in her hands and gently poured the water into a pool in the center of her hand.

“Hold out your hand.”  I obeyed, as usual.  She tipped half of the water into my hand.  As soon as it hit my hand, it started running into the little creases and dissolving into my skin            .

“Now drink it.”  I did, what little was left of my handful.  Her own hadn’t shrunk at all.  I was a bit curious about why she wanted me to drink rainwater, and why the hell I was actually doing whatever she told me to do, but I didn’t get a chance to ask any questions.  Eve closed her eyes and started humming.  The noise reverberated through the air and vibrated in my chest.  I stepped back and looked around nervously, wondering if my mom was watching now.  I was getting cold and wet and hadn’t even been inside yet to change out of my video store t-shirt.  I stuck my hands in my pockets, scrunched my shoulders together, and waited for her to finish… whatever she was doing.  After about five minutes, she opened her eyes and breathed out very slowly.

“Ok.  We can go inside now.  I need you to come with me.”

“Can I change my shirt first?”

“Why?”  She laughed.

“Well, I have to wear this thing five days a week.  Also it’s kind of wet now.”  She raised her eyebrows and shook her head slowly, like she was trying to think of how to incorporate my t-shirt crisis into her secret plant-ritual.  “Ok fine, let’s just go inside, then.”  I offered, settling for simply getting out of the rain.

“My house.”  I followed her across the lawn to the Cawley’s house.  They were sitting in the kitchen watching the news.  Mr.  Cawley waved, but didn’t turn as we walked down the hall to Eve’s room.  I’d been over before, so they were used to seeing me around.  They never seemed to care what Eve did, either.  Sometimes I wondered if they even knew she was living with them.  I mean, they had to know, but I never heard them talk to her.

Eve’s room was always dark. She’d covered the walls with large paintings and posters, all dark colors in abstract patterns.  Her bed was right next to the window, which was wide open as always, rain spattering the windowsill through the screen.

“I want to paint you,” she said.

“Right now?”

“Yes.  Just sit there,” she motioned towards an ancient dark green chair in the corner.  It looked like it would fall apart if I touched it.

“Don’t you think I should change into something dry?  Or… um, I haven’t even been in my house yet tonight.”  I’d never been asked to model before.  How are you supposed to respond to that?  I’d never even watched Eve paint before!  I knew she wanted to go to art school, and she’d told me which paintings on the wall were hers, but I never really thought about the fact that at some point she sat down and made them.  None of them were of people, either.  Why did she suddenly want to paint me?

“Just sit.”  As I tried to back away towards the door, she touched my arm.  Ice spread under her fingertips —they  wrapped around my bicep and she led me to the antique chair in the corner.  She had never touched me before.  Her hands were so cold it ached.  When she let go I grabbed my arm with my other hand,

“Jeez, you’re cold!”

“I’m sorry.”  Her eyes were so sad I decided to forget about the iciness of her touch.

So I sat in the chair for about two hours while she set up a canvas, got out her paint and brushes, and set to work.  I almost fell asleep.  She didn’t say anything the entire time she was painting.  I tried to start conversation a few times, but she just shook her head at me.

Finally, she stood up. I moved my head around and raised my eyebrows.

“Done.”  She pronounced.

“Can I get up?”

“Yeah.”  I walked around to the other side of the easel.  It was covered with red and black and dark green.  In the middle I could see a splotch that sort of resembled my head.  My arms were simple streaks of tan paint, and my body blended into the chair, which looked more like a dark green blob than anything else.  “Wow.  That’s cool,”  I said.  I’ve never understood art.

“I don’t know.  I’m trying to figure something out…”  She paused for a long time.  I’d never seen her this confused before.  “I need to tell you something,” she continued.”

“Shoot.”

“I’m not human,” She said, completely serious.

“Right.  And I’m from Mars.”  I couldn’t deal with her seriousness.  My eyes were blurry with tiredness. and my arm still ached where her fingers had touched it.

“No, you need to believe me!”  Her voice was so desperate, so strained.  I realized it was like she was crying without the tears.  I didn’t say anything.  Just turned my head, stared out the window, into my living room.  Nobody there.  Not like there would be; it was almost two a.m. and my mom usually fell asleep around midnight.

When you’re really tired, your mind plays tricks on you.  I think the whole thing that happened next was some sort of dream.  It had dream-like qualities, when you can’t really move and time feels disjointed. The memory’s fuzzy, too – whenever I try to think about it too hard, bits of it fade away.  It’s damned frustrating.  So Eve was sort of sobbing, but not crying.  I don’t know if she could cry.  I mean, if she wasn’t human… but what could she be, then?  Crazy?  Whatever she was, I wanted her to smile again.

“I thought you’d understand,”  her voice had changed, that sub-tone had returned, like a deep reverberation.  I still couldn’t talk, it was that frozen feeling, you know?  Like when you dream and can’t move no matter how hard you try?  Eve sat down on the bed, cross-legged, her back to me, right in front of the window.  It was raining harder now, splashing down, getting the covers of the bed wet, splashing onto her skin now that she was sitting right there.  The room was getting cold.  I didn’t know how she could stand it.  I stood in the middle of the room, shifting my weight uncomfortably, while Eve sat looking out into the rain.  Eventually, she stood up, put one leg out the window, then the other, then closed it from the outside.  I watched, stunned, as her bright red hair faded into the darkness.  I guess she must have walked away, but I couldn’t see her at all.  I never saw her again.

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Responses

  1. […] Part II Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)The Girl of Your DreamsNo Title […]

  2. I often tell myself that I don’t like “fantasy” writing, yet I found this to be a very interesting, well-written story. Kudos to you.


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