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Watching Rain MAG
“Look up,” he says, staring proudly at the heavens. I stand, cold and dripping, looking down at my nine-year-old brother. “For real!” he exclaims, smiling broadly without turning to me. “Look up!”
I figure I’ll humor him.
“What, you’ve never watched the rain before?”
I can’t help but let a little smile slide through, and I shake my head.
“No, Kevin,” I say. “I’ve never watched the rain.”
“Oh,” he says, carefully shielding his disappointment. But the grin drips from his face with each successive drop, and we remain in silence for a moment. I scan the horizon for the familiar headlights that will save us from our cold, wet vigil, as he scans the falling drops for bits of chocolate, or diamonds. Suddenly his face lights up again. “Snow?” he inquires.
The smile pokes through again. “No,” I say. “Not snow, either.”
He pauses again. He’s probably never heard of dramatic timing, but he was born with it. “Ever hear how every snowflake is different? You know, no two are alike?”
It’s as if some sadistic puppeteer is pulling at the corners of my mouth, back toward my ears and up. “Yeah?”
I turn to him quickly, stunned but smiling. His head remains locked upward, but his eyes flit toward mine and his smile widens.
“I mean, figure it snows every day, somewhere …”
“I know, I know,” I say, nodding. “I know what you mean.”
“So what?” I ask.
He again displays his expertise, pausing perfectly. “So that’s bull!”
My laughter erupts, and I can only hope he won’t grow up to think words like “bull” are glamorous or can be relied on for cheap laughs. But then, I think, I probably don’t have to worry about how this kid will grow up.
He remains focused on the drops that paste his hair down over his eyes, or slide directly into them and overflow onto his cheeks. Despite these inconveniences he does not abandon his cause, and continues to stare at the clouds. I stand there for a moment, watching him, until at last I feel the headlights play across my dripping frame and bite at the corners of my eyes. The Volvo station wagon is still a bit down the road, though, and I let him enjoy his solitude a moment more. It feels almost blasphemous to break his concentration, as if he were taking part in some ritual and to speak would disregard his right to religion.
“Kevin?” I say at last. He ignores me, or maybe he is so focused he really doesn’t hear. “Kevin? Mom’s here.”
“Yeah?” he replies, slightly annoyed, cementing my guilt at having encroached upon his Zen. The Volvo turns into the parking lot, and the headlights create an illuminated tunnel through the descending drops. The lamps graze over Kevin, and in this instant he is a photograph, the freckled light frozen across his torso as he gazes intensely (but oh, so innocently) upward. The car rolls to a stop beside us. I hesitate. “Let’s go.”
He does not respond at first. “Oh,” he says simply. He lets one last drop splash between his eyes, blinks, flinches and smiles at me. “Okay,” he says, flinging the door open and sliding across the back seat. He does not look back at me, but immediately presses his nose against the glass and stretches his neck heaven-ward again.
I stand beside the steel cage holding the door, the drops ricocheting off the roof and into my eyes. I look down at the cloth plastered to my shoulders, my arms. I turn my palms over to watch the narrow, swift rivulets form and flow across and over the lines. I tilt my hand so that the water slides down the incline and splashes against the pavement as a concentrated stream. I close my hand and feel the pellets hit each knuckle. I look up and see the drops catch the orange light of the lamppost, slide against one another and crash into my hand, a palmful of diamonds. I smile and look across at my nine-year-old brother, who has shifted his focus from the drops to the Gameboy he retrieved from between the seat cushions. He feels my curious stare and looks over at me inquisitively, as if to say, “Is something wrong?” though without haughtiness. He raises his eyebrows to repeat his question, but I only smile and shake my head and shut the door.