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Clouds

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The humid air envelopes me like a soggy blanket, spiraling down from the clouds pregnant with unshed rain. I heft a white garbage bag in my hand; the green container at the end of my driveway is its target. I look down at my feet while I walk and hum under my breath. My driveway is long enough to give me too much time to think.

My feet are deathly pale against the gray of the concrete. The temporary self-tanner I put on this morning bleeds onto my ankles. After that, it stops, revealing the true nature of my skin. I blink against the mascara flakes snowing into my eyes. I look up at the ominous sky and then back down at my feet. The French manicure on my toes is chipping, evidence that the disintegrating pedicure was done on my bathroom floor instead of in a salon. I brush a tendril of straightened hair thick with hairspray away from my face. The song I am humming isn’t bubblegum pop or rap. It’s a song no one’s ever heard of. It’s one of my favorites.

I am temporary. The ways I blend in with my classmates—the pedicure, the fake tan, the makeup, the hair—are half-hearted efforts. The other girls go to nail salons and tanning beds. They wear false lashes and have chemicals in their hair to keep it straight without a flatiron. All of that is permanent, and it has become a permanent part of them. They are fake to the core; they don’t know any other way of life. The plastic masks they put on are but a continuation of equally plastic minds and souls.

What if it rained right now?

What if the skies gave birth to water and me? My hair would come undone, hairspray washed out and natural curl returned. My self-tanner would melt, color pooling at my feet. Mascara would streak down my face. I would want to sing in the rain, and it would not be music anyone else approved of. I would be returned to myself whether I liked it or not.

I wish it would rain.





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