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Relying on the Rain

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The rain always soothed her. She liked the feel of water running down her neck, and loved the steady
rhythm that it beat out on the sidewalk. It was never enough just to get damp in the rain. It
wasn't truly right unless she got absolutely soaked. It was raining now, but she had to keep dry.
It was irritating, but her hair had to be perfect. The sky was grey and the roads were slick. Red
taillights faded in and out of he mist like viscous sparks. She squinted down the road, and seeing
the car, sighed. Her mother would be so ashamed, she thought. In her childhood, it had been the wet
clothes and dirty shoes that bothered her mother. It felt that now, her shoes weren't the only
things that were dirty about her. True, her skin was clear, her hair was immaculate, and her clothes
were cutting edge. But underneath, her heart was tattered. Her dignity was in shambles. Her pride
was laying four feet back, drowned in the gutter. But he was here bow, and she had to focus. She
strutted up to the car, her face frozen into a seductive mask, her eyes twinkling and hair curling.
The man inside turned to her and shook her head. His eyes were sympathetic as he pointed to younger,
more scantily dressed girl in the back. She gasped, shocked. The girl looked up and offered an
apologetic smile. They all knew who wouldn't be having supper that night. Trying to retain some
pride, she smirked haughtily (like it didn't matter) and spun away, hoping that the thick coat of
mascara on her eyes would hide the tears of desperation creeping up. As she waited, huddled under a
streetlight, she reflected back to grade school. Back then, she had had been the star student, whose
hand would shoot up and quiver in the air at every question, and whose hair was always brushed
immaculately into a ponytail. Her life was normal, and her future full of promise, until the day
that a car crash and a lack of life insurance sent her to a group home. It wasn't until then that
she shed the proper name of Michelle, and Mickie was born. She found, at the age of eleven, that she
could do things with boys, and forget about life. She realized at fifteen that she could get money
to do those things. She realized at eighteen that she had no inheritance, and that selling her body
was the only easy option. Now, at twenty-four, her time was running out. A dark form scurried up to
her and broke abruptly through her reverie. She looked down to see a short, grimy man whose eyes
shone with excitement. He offered her a handful of pills, some blue and some green, but she declined
with a sharp shake of her head. She turned away dismissively, reflecting on how the ain washed
everything, and how she wished that it could go deeper, and wash away the things that she had done
and the choices that she had made. On this dreary evening, those bad choices were only emphasized by
the calloused hand on her sleeve. 'Oh, c'mon, Mickie!' he exclaimed. 'This is good stuff, I
swear.' She smiled at him gently, but with restraint. 'Sam. I've been clean for three months.
And it's Michelle, to you.' She felt a thrill at reclaiming that part of herself, and considered
it her first step to, like the rain; start to wash off her world. He stared at her shocked, then
disappointed. She felt guilty for affecting his income, but she stood firm. His mouth worked, as he
struggled to cope with the news. 'But-but' You've never made it this long before! Why do you
even bother?' She blurted out her confession, feeling shy and apprehensive, not knowing why she
was going to confide in this little man, 'Sam, I want to go back to school' I want to try
again.' He took one look at her earnest face, and burst out laughing, his toothless smile
reminding her of the emptiness of her current way of living. He shook, tears streaming down his
face, and then, unexpectedly, his laughs turned from hearty chuckles to broken sobs. He cried there
in the rain beside her for five minutes while she stood awkwardly, not knowing what to say or do.
She was relieved when the sobs suddenly faltered then halted. 'You don't have a chance,' he
said abruptly, the tears the only proof of his former hysteria. 'We don't have a chance! You
think that you can waltz into a school and pay for your education with your dirty money? I tried
that. They wouldn't let me in, and they won't let you in. People like us just don't get second
chances. Drugs, sex, violence, they're all just big distractions. Living in the hood is like a
big high school that you can never graduate. I wish you the best, but I don't think you can do it.
Good luck with that.' He walked away; his small stature slumped even more under the weight of the
solemn fate of a street person. Michelle felt tears spilling over her cheekbones, and wiped the
mascara off of her face, her chin jutting out in defiance. A car pulled up, and she got in
automatically. She paid no attention to the man leering at her from the front of the car, or to the
twenties that he was waving in her face. She thought, and looked out the window. The rain was still
pouring, and the cars threw up sprays of water wherever they went, like backwards waterfalls. She
tuned out the noise of the radio, the man and the negative thoughts that ran through her head. It
seemed like those thoughts were on a marathon to see which one would touch her heart first. She
reflected and began to feel some optimism flooding into her soul. She could always keep her hope.
And when that flame began to falter before the winds of doubt, she could always rely on the rain.




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