© Jessica Swinburne 2011
When I woke up that morning, after a week and a half of solid rain, the first thing I noticed was not that even though there was a thick fog, it wasn’t yet raining.
No, the first thing I noticed was that my Dad was home, something that only occurred every three days or so, and hadn’t happened, that I knew of, for more than six. He was bashing around the kitchen, trying to find were I had hidden the cereal this time.
So when I got to the kitchen, I found he had indeed found said cereal, and was eating some. I ate as fast as I could, and still had to endure a good ten minutes of uncomfortable silence with my Dad. And then got out of there as fast as I could.
I was in my car, so it took an extra ten minutes to get to school, but I still got there when there were still only four cars in the parking lot. And only like 5 people.
I contemplated just sitting in my car listening to music till Cya or Seth got here but I noticed someone sitting drawing under one of the eaves.
I knew even from that far that it was Rain. I was going to go talk to him, sit with him, whatever, when I came to the realization that it would the first time we would be properly alone together. I wasn’t sure at the time why that was such a big deal. But it was.
But I still put my hood my over my curly, [I hadn’t bothered to straighten it, because of the rain] bright red hair and got out the warmth and comfort of my car and wondered over to where he was sitting.
He didn’t look up at the sound of my approach. I thought it was because he was absorbed in his drawing, but he could have just been ignoring me. Or whoever he thought was coming at him at whatever too-early time it was.
“Bit early for you to be here isn’t it?” He surprised me; I guess he did know it was me.
“I could say the same. Although it shouldn’t surprise me you’re here so early, when you don’t really go home before 7 when we all go home.” I sat next to him so I could see what he was drawing.
“Why are you here so early?” He changed the subject so easily I hardly noticed. But I did, and yet I let it go anyway.
“My Dad was home.”
“And that’s a bad thing?”
“My relationship with my Dad is awkward to say the least.”
“And you’re Mom?” I looked at him now. He met my grey eyes with his green ones.
“I don’t talk about it.”
“Maybe you should talk about it.”
“Maybe you should talk about whatever goes on in your life that’s so bad.” His eyes narrowed. Mine softened. I knew a head on approached wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I had to be gentle about it.
“I’ll tell you something about my life, if you tell me about your mom.”
“For everything I tell you about my Mom, you’ll tell me something about your life.”
“Or your lips stay sealed?” His eye-brows went up and his expression became challenging.
“Or my lips stay sealed.” I lifted one corner of my mouth up, in a kind of half grin.
“Okay. Deal. Can I make a condition?” I narrowed my eyes.
“Can we go sit in your car? I’m freezing.” To add emphasis he shuddered.
“Yeah, of course.” I smiled.
We walked to my car, and I unlocked it. We slipped in and I put the heater on.
“So.” I looked at him.
“So.” He met my stare head on.
“My Mother died five years ago. When I was 12.” I looked down at my hands.
“We moved here because my brother disappeared and I don’t think my dad really wanted him to come back.” I could tell he was trying to control his voice, and he was doing a good job too, but I could hear some of the hatred that leaked through when he said ‘dad’.
“It was my fault.”
“He disappeared. He left me alone with them.”
“It was raining, like really raining hard. I wanted to see some friend whose name I can’t even remember anymore. She didn’t want to take me in the rain, but I insisted that I had to go, and I had to go then. I was so stubborn. And she paid the price for it.” I hadn’t talked about it for years. If people asked about my Mom, I just said she was dead. I didn’t elaborate. Ever.
“My father…” He trailed off, he didn’t know what to tell me that felt safe to him, so I just carried on with my own story, “Finally she said yes, I think because she just wanted me to stop annoying her. So we got in the car, and I could tell she was mad, but I wanted to go, and I wanted to go the way I wanted to, so I put my music on, my favourite song, not very loud, but just a little too loud, and she snapped at me and turned it all the way down, almost so I couldn’t hear at all. I got mad, said something horrible back, and it turned it back up, even louder.” I turned my head into my hand, which was resting on the driver’s door. “Anyway, she went to turn it back down. She was distracted for only a second, but it was enough. She went through a red traffic light, and someone crashed into her side of the car.”
A single tear leaked out and slid down my check.
“And the last thing I ever said to my Mom was so bad, so horrible, I normally would never have even thought about saying it and it was the very last thing, she ever heard me say to her.” I looked at Rain. He was looking at me, and the look in his eyes was something I wasn’t expecting. People who knew pitied me. I hated to see pity in people’s eyes. But in his eyes was understanding. He knew how I felt.
A car pulled up next to mine, and I glanced at it. It was Seth’s. I got out the car before Rain could say anything.
Seth was already out his car. He took one look at my face, and knew what I had been talking about. He opened his arms and I put my arms around his waist. I could tell he was looking at Rain while he held me. He was the only one who I stilled talked to that I had known when Mom died. He was the only person who understood. The only person I thought would ever understand.
I guess I was wrong.