To See the Rain
"I had wanted so much to see the rain that night."
I paused in my reading and looked up. She sat in the chair facing the window, her back ramrod straight, her eyes gazing into the unseen past.
"That is what I remember most about it."
It. She had never spoken of it before to me, to anyone. I sat quietly, listening, waiting, for I knew from experience that she spoke little. But what she did say was worth a thousand words.
"No doubt you will think me stupid, childish," she said, sadness in her voice. "And I suppose I am, in many ways. I never was allowed to have a childhood; I grew up far too quickly. I had to grow up quickly; there was no other way."
"I see more clearly than other people. I see a lot more than they could ever imagine." She laughed bitterly: "It's rather funny, isn't it? Rather ironic. People tend to think that I can't understand things; that I can't grasp what is going on. But I see all the more clearly because of it."
She said no more, and her eyes fell, unseeing, to her hands clasped tightly in her lap. Seconds, minutes passed. We sat in silence, only broken by the soft purring of the cat that lay in my lap. At last, when I had thought there was no more, I raised my book again. But her words stopped me.
"All I had ever wanted was to see the rain. I had felt it before; I had felt it, soft on my fingertips, cool on my face, so refreshing on my body. I had tasted it, wet on my tongue. I had smelled it, fresh and clean after a long, Spring rain; I had smelled it, heavy and damp before a large storm. I had heard it, its pitter-pat echoing off the windows at it landed. I heard its drumbeat as I lay on my bed, heard its sweet rhythm as I lay in my room. But all I had ever wanted to do was see the rain."
"What does it look like, Raeanne?" came the soft question, uttered to the cold, unfeeling glass. "Can you even possibly describe it, so that I can see it in my mind, so that I can see it with my own eyes?" She shook her head. "No, of course you can't. It is not something you or anyone can describe. Rain is simply rain."
A tear ran down her face, falling from clear blue eyes. "All I had wanted to do was to see it. I had sat there that night, in front of the big bay window in the den, listening. I could hear it playing its soft cadence on the window before me. I could feel the beat as I lay my hand upon the cool glass."
I watched her as her arm stretched out, laying her fingertips on the window before her. After a moment or two, she drew in her hand, closing it into a fist, which she laid against her chest, her eyes closed, her head bent as if in pain. Her eyes were filled with tears when she turned her face to where I sat. "Raeanne, what were your parents like?"
I smiled sadly. "I loved my parents; I still love them with all my heart. They were the kindest people I have ever known, the best people, I believe, I ever shall meet. I was second in their eyes to only one thing: each other. I was blessed to have had such a family." I felt the tears in my eyes as I sighed. "The only thing I regret is that our time together was so short. My mother died from cancer when I was twenty, and my father only lasted a few years beyond that. Without them, my world was somehow empty, I think. I have never gotten over their deaths."
Her blue eyes gazed sightlessly at me for a while longer, then she nodded and turned again to the window. We both were silent for a while, I, with memories of my mother and father; she, with whatever the thoughts that pass through her mind, the thoughts that have always been a mystery to everyone but her.
"I loved my parents, too, I suppose. Well, I loved them in my own way. How could you love someone whom you've never seen in your life? How could you love someone who abandons you regularly? How could you love someone who beats you for things you don't understand, for mistakes you don't realize you've made? How could you love someone who can't stand up for herself, who could never find the strength to leave? And yet, I loved them both. Simply because they were my parents; simply because they were mine."
A small, mirthless smile creased her lips. "My father killed my mother. He then took his own life. I wonder, sometimes, what would have happened to me if I had been in the house. Would I have shared the same fate?" She shook her head slowly. "I guess I'll never know. I may have, and then again, I was constantly overlooked. I begin to think, though, that it doesn't really matter. What happened, happened, and nothing neither I, nor anyone else can do will change that fact."
"I had gone up to my bedroom at the usual time. I don't think that my mother would have noticed had I not. She was in the kitchen, as usual, drinking. I didn't understand when I was younger why she did that. But now I realise that she was only trying to escape. In her own, cowardly way, she was escaping the harsh reality that was her life. I don't blame her for it. Everyone makes their choices on how to deal with life. Some people's lives are easier than others, but how we deal with it is our own decision. And she made hers."
Her face softened as she smiled, the only true smile I had ever seen from her, and it made my heart lurch with happiness, sadness, and an unreasonable anger at the fate that had allowed her to lose her smile.
"I hadn't gone to my bed, though. I had crawled out my window and down the tree that stood on the other side. I stood for a while in the rain, just letting it run down my face and body. It was so perfect that night, the rain. How could I describe it?" She shook her head again. "As I said before, I guess I couldn't; no one could. But if you could imagine the rain, imagine the coolest, most refreshing rain you have ever been in. That's what it was that night. There was happiness in the rain, a feeling of extreme freedom, of life."
"I had made my way carefully to the woods at the edge of our property. A small brook runs through it, and when it rains, the water rushes faster. The sound is so calming, so peaceful, but at the same time, so exciting. I had made a small chair there for myself---it was nothing but a few rocks: a seat and a back. But it was where I went when it rained. I sat for a while, listening to the rain falling through the leaves of the trees, listening to the water rushing near my feet. It was so...perfect, I suppose."
Her eyes saddened again, and her hands clasped and unclasped in her lap as she bit her lip. "I had heard the first gunshot that marked the end of my mother's life when I had been sitting under the trees for quite a while. It had followed the sound of raised voices; I had ignored that part. I had heard it all too often during my childhood. But the gunshot had frightened me. I couldn't deny that I had been scared. I think anyone would be. But I knew it was trouble."
"I didn't dare go back---not even after the second gunshot. I didn't return until I heard the sirens, and even then, I went reluctantly. I could feel the sharpness of the rain then, as if it knew of what had happened. It was fanciful, childish, imaginative. But the wind whipped harder, and the rain fell more harshly, and it felt so cold. And I was alone. I knew it the moment I stepped through the back door, dripping wet. I could feel it in the air of the house. I could smell the death, too."
A tear slipped from her eye, rolling down her cheek. "I had never imagined what it would be like to be so completely alone, Raeanne. There I was, in a house completely swarming with policemen and detectives and other people, and yet I was alone, utterly, completely alone. No one saw me as I stood on the rug at the back door, dripping all over the floor. Or if they had seen me, no one spoke to me. They simply bustled here and there, taking notes and making theories. I heard exactly what had happened from them. There was no sense later, when I was with the social worker, for them to sugarcoat it for me. I had already heard it all."
"It makes me wonder, if they thought I was deaf, as well as blind. They spoke most of the time as if I didn't exist, as if I weren't standing right before them. That's how it has been most of my life, in fact. But here it was worse. They spoke of me as a child, incapable of making a decision, incapable of knowing or understanding. No one ever gave me a chance. And the thing was, I accepted it. I had to accept it."
She was silent for a while, and as the grandfather clock in the hall chimed the hour, curiosity prompted me to ask, "Do you blame your father? Do you hate him for what he did?"
A curious half smile flitted across her face as she turned to me. "That's a very funny question you ask, Raeanna. In fact, that is two completely different questions you ask. Yes, I blame him for what he did. I would be a simpleton not to. It was undeniably his fault. He pulled the trigger; he killed two people. I do not blame circumstances, fate; it was his decision to commit murder. He chose his path.
Your other question, on the other hand, I have reflected over many times. No, I do not hate my father. Yes, I hate what he had done; his action I can hate, because it was done with anger and with hate. But I do not hate him for it. I separate the two; I have forgiven him, but I have not forgiven the action. I'm not sure I could ever forgive it. Can you understand what I am saying?"
"Yes," I said, my voice choked with emotion. "Yes, I can. But it's late. I should help you to bed."
She nodded, and I helped her out of the chair and down the hall to her room. When she had been tucked beneath her blankets, and I was turning out the light before I left, she grasped my arm with her hand, willing me to wait. "I told you, Raeanna, because I knew you had always wondered. And I couldn't leave without you knowing."
She released my arm then, and lay back on the pillows, closing her eyes gently. And as I turned out the light and closed the door, I pondered her words. I could not have known, I could not have realized that this was to be the last time I would see her alive. She passed away during the night, in her sleep. And as I reflect on that night, many years later, I always regret that I had not known her better, longer.
It has rained many times since her death, but tonight is different. Tonight I am going to see the rain.
© 2000 Copyright held by the author.
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