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A Rain Story
“I like the rain.” He says, staring out the window of the car with a look of too perfect peace on his face. The lighting of the rainy day casts a blue twinge over his smooth features, transforming him into an untouchable statue outlined in darkness and filled with white moon. His glasses look like black ink lines engraved across his face, dark enough to be scars or wounds bleeding black blood. I wish he would move; turn his eyes away from the window so they wouldn’t look so dark, so narrowed, so angled.
“Why?” I mutter, still watching him watch the rain. “Rain is dark and gloomy and boring, everyone knows that. You can’t do anything in the rain, only stay home and wish it was gone.”
He doesn’t respond right away and for a while only the humming of the car can be heard. I can see his eyes seeing the rain, transfixed by a secret that was known only by him and the rain, could only be seen by him and the rain. I wonder if he admires the rain from afar, from behind closed windows, or if to him the rain is like a friend, bringing a calm with its presence, beauty in unspoken words. Then he says, slowly, his words dripping off his tongue like cooled honey, “That’s very subjective.”
I scowl. “Even if it is, it’s a very accepted opinion, a very normal opinion.” I pause for a moment trying to turn his eyes towards me so I could attempt to dissect the cloaked feelings in them.
He mistakes my pause as an end and replies back to me, “It is true. Not many like the rain.”
“So why do you?” The words tumble out of my mouth too quickly, my curiosity evading my caution, my pointed hostility. I do not like this boy before me; I am not supposed to like him. He is my enemy, though at the moment, there is nothing I can do but watch idly from the sidelines. I cannot strike him now, cannot fire upon him what I have been so rigorously taught to do. I can barely pin down my emotions, which are so unsettled within me that I cannot even identify them. It would best for me to do my duty and not talk at all, not question this boy with likes the rain, but I have always been marked poorly in discipline, in obedience. It is not my actions, but rather my tongue, which can sometimes be seen as a wrong action within itself. I am loyal to my position, but do not have a heart, nor tongue, of stone. But I should, and sometimes I wonder.
The boy does not seem to have noticed my mistake, my too-quick eagerness. He does not even notice my unease now. No, he just stares out the window, face, body, tone, ever so impassive and still. I wonder if he is just very skilled at controlling his emotions, locking them away in the distant most part of his mind and paints himself with false colors instead, just putting on a show to please others, or if he actually is like this, so much like a stone. Would his heart be as cold as his eyes? Would it be as still as his face? Would it be as smooth as his words?
I am also certain that he isn’t going to answer me then and, foolishly, start to feel slightly disappointed. But then his lips move, forming perfect words. “Why…do I…like the rain?” He repeats my question slowly, contemplating it, or seeming to. He is silent another moment before finally adding, “Why not like the rain?” And then he closes his mouth and resolves not to say anymore.
It irks me. All his simple responses that don’t answer what I wanted him to although he knows what I desire, all these emotionless moments that seem like he is just mocking me, just playing a game. Younger kids used to play a game, a silly thing, where they would stare at each other and try not to show any expression on their face, try not to let it break, but almost always, their faces were broken by laughter or a smile. He must have been very good at this game; he is winning against me. My thoughts have been leaked from my impulsive tongue, too quick and too much does it say. But in this case, rather than scold myself, I begin to take on a selfish thought that I am better than he, because I at least can feel, while he seems to feel nothing, think nothing, say nothing. Just like they’ve told us: he is not one of us, he does not belong. He is our enemy.
Remembering this I want to bite my tongue, refuse to say more to this odd boy, but I also want him to answer my question, and not just with another question. “I’ve already told you that, in case you have forgotten.” I say smoothly, directing my words at him like a skilled dagger seeking out the heart, the home. “It’s not normal. It’s not pleasant. There is no pleasant reason to like the rain. It symbolizes misery and gloom. Does that mean you like seeing others’ pain? Their tears? Their broken hopes and dreams? Are those the only things that will bring a smile to your stone lips?”
My words…do not have the affect I want them to.
For the first time, he turns his head just enough so that his black rain-inked eyes can gaze upon me. A hint of a smile plays along his lips, like a bright light taunting a cat. He raises his eyebrows ever so slightly in mocking. “Is that all you think of the rain?” He pauses, raven eyes searching mine. I hold my breath, clench my teeth. “You are very narrow-minded.” He starts to turn back towards the window, wrenching my gaze from his, and adds, “And have very slippery lips.”
Gape at him and wonder if he can feel it burn his back, his neck, his slanted rain-drawn eyes. Before I have time to think of a wittier response, I blurt in anger, “What is that supposed to mean?! Explain yourself, scum!”
We hit a bump in the road and are thrown forward, the world spinning, my anger leaping into my throat and choking me. The rain’s light bounces in the car, disrupting the light and shadows, sending out blue ripples. But all the while, he is undisturbed by this occurrence. Instead of spilling forwards unprepared, he merely shifts his balance, his eyes never leaving the street and sky outside the window.
It takes a moment for me to resettle myself, regain my thoughts and wits about me. When I do, I glare at him. “Answer me.” I breathe, my voice low and threatening. “Answer me.”
“Answer me!” I thunder, my temper flaring and I have nothing left to rein it in with. It is insulting now, how he can remain so disinterested, withdrawn. I am speaking to him. He hears me but does not care to return the effort? His will is a stubborn, ugly thing, fouled by his arrogance and scarred by his insolence. I hate it. How he makes me feel like the stupid one, having to hang onto his very words, at his mercy. Does he think himself better than me, think he knows more? A few sly words do not make one wise. One’s temper is not one’s power. My master’s words ring in my ears and I am mentally slapped. I am acting no better, in my own way, than him. But I do not think it is he who is trying to teach me a lesson, like my master would. I think he is just as young and foolish as I, that his words are his own, reflecting inept thoughts. He is clever, but rash.
He sighs under his breath, I can see it, and I think I’ve finally gotten to him, found a crack in his armor to provoke feelings, even if angry. He turns his head harshly towards me, his mouth slightly open and face exasperated, the way a person would turn to a child who has asked too many pointless, annoying questions and they are now just amazed that they could still have more.
“What? Do you really need me to spell everything out for you?” His expression collects slightly, becomes smoother, calmer. “No, you’re smarter than that. You know what I mean, but choose not to see it, not to accept it. Well, open your eyes! Nobody else can do that for you.” He frowns slightly and I realize that his face does not look angry or negative at all, more like he is just a fellow pupil, watching me as I scramble the lesson we have just learned. He isn’t too friendly, isn’t too hostile or cold, just watching me observantly and, I now realize, with startling ice blue eyes. The rain cannot seep into them at this angle, but his mask still has yet to break. Doesn’t he see me as a foe? Certainly he has been told. And yet, he watches me with a calm, mild face.
I watch him back in return; scrutinize the details about him that I have not noticed before. I study his skin, which is darker than I thought. His tiny but dark freckles scattered randomly across his face; his straight, smooth, carved nose; his sweeping jaw line; his fine, but tousled black hair that should have looked improper but did not. His dark eyebrows that were arched over his eyes, that were not too thin nor too thick; his inky black eyelashes; and lastly his startling, ice blue eyes. And then I realize, I have been staring at him and he does not seem to mind. He is staring back. Foe analyzing a foe. It is sickening.
My expression must have changed because he suddenly looks amused, dark pupils dancing across my face. Does he think I am intimidated by him?
“Do you hate me?” I ask, bluntly. My voice is even now, all trace of anger or aggression melted away.
He tilts his head slightly to the side, his wide, mild eyes blinking. I supposed that is about as much surprise as he would show. “I never said I didn’t.” There is quiet after that and he must know I’m not going to respond again so he adds, “But no, I don’t. I have no reason to.”
I narrow my eyes. “You have every reason to. Only a fool would trust his enemy.” I pause and he does not respond, or even blink. So I add, “I hate you.”
This brings a touch, just a touch, of amusement on his face, a wisp of a smile and dash of curiosity. But it is a subtle serpent moving under his skin, and I am not sure if it is really there or not, when I try to look too closely.
There is silence for a long time, which might have been only a minute or less. I feel the car change its speed and am briefly fearful that I will be launched forwards again. It only slows, gently, to a stop. I still feel the hum of the engine tingle through me, still see the rush of the trees, the blur of the rain. It is still raining, hard and forbidding against those dark walls that protected me. I realize, with a rush, that the boy had not turned back towards the window, the light, the rain – he is still watching me with that touch of emotion, whatever it may be now. I narrow my eyes at him, puzzled by his gaze, wondering again if he will answer—
“Well…” He says slowly, ever so drawn out. His eyes are now adverted to the ground, as if gazing fondly at the dirt on the carpet, his eyes and lashes blended into two dashes of black against paled skin. His hand now rests lightly upon the silver handle of the car door. There are noises, from outside. I think the people in the other part of the car have gotten out, probably coming around to collect us. As if the sounds pulled him out of a dream, the boy’s mouth twitches and he raises his dark eyes to meet mine, but looks up threw his lashes, making him appear as if he keeps a secret hidden beneath them. “Only time will tell. Until we meet again.” His hand moves slightly and his door opens, letting light break in and divide the area like a sword would. He is on the light side, I on the dark, but his body creates shadows. “And by the way,” He smiles now, for the first real time, his eyes crinkling and lips curling simply, but I can tell it isn’t from true happiness, “we will meet again.” And then he is gone. His door closes a moment later and the car is strangely dim.
I blink a few times and turn to my own door, opening it easily. I jerk back and hit the car as raindrops splatter across my face and body when I am still unprepared for their attack. Scowling, because I am now wet and cold and in a bad mood, I stomp away from the car and over to the building, cowering under the small jutting roof there. I yank my thin jacket harder around me and watch as Jed takes the things out of the car with painstakingly slow hands. I want to tell him to hurry up, but then he would only drag me over to help him, and I do not want to step into the rain again. I turn my attention to the left, where through the dim gloom I can see the large black doors being opened and the two all-black garbed guards from before escorting an inky black head between them. It is that boy, I know, and am finally relieved that he is away from me.
He was starting to upset me, just the pure aura of him. That enemy of mine, even more now than before, is finally back in the respected place of an enemy. I will no longer have to endure his unsettling habits and words and eyes. We will meet again. His words suddenly shoot through my mind, an arrow hitting the worst targets it could at the moment. His face is shown before me again, the searing rain behind him, and then other images flow too, ones of his kind and my master and lessons taught and learned. My head throbs dimly and I realize I have changed my position, now leaning against the cold stone wall that is not as cold as the weather outside and my arms are crossed, my head inclined and eyes gazing blankly at the soggy ground.
“Are you ready?” Jed says as I raise my head to meet him, glimpsing him coming towards me from the corner of my eyes. His body is soaked from the rain, but he doesn’t seem to mind.
All the luggage is bundled up around him and I reluctantly step away from my safe place to pick up some of the bags for him. I nod my head slightly, “Yeah, ready as I’ll ever be. Let’s just get out of this blasted rain.” I heave a bag onto my back and start walking towards our entrance. A shiver flees through me and I tell myself it is just the cold.
My master’s words echo through my mind: “The most honorable thing you can do is to stay true to your word. If you make a vow, then you keep it, no matter what.” I’m pretty sure at that time, my master meant those words to be for a higher, better purpose, one that would truly be honorable, like staying loyal to a friend or teacher or mission, but those words can also be thick steel bars of a prison with no door. The only way out is to break it.
The rain makes my feet heavy and I want to drag them, or stop and set down the bags that are making my bones ache, but I walk harder instead, forcing Jed to move faster as well. I only have one thought repeating in my mind and wish it would stop: I have vowed to forever hate my enemy, but haven’t I also vowed to repay my debts? I am in debt to this stranger.
However much I may despise it, I am bound to my enemy.