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Rain dripped down my windowpane, pasting watery stains on the glass. The wind howled, and the window I left cracked open brought a whirlwind of raindrops onto the windowsill. The power went out twenty minutes ago, and I sat holding my candle that smelt like apples in the dark, watching the flame wavered as each gust of wind slid underneath the crack
Right across the street, Ian’s Halloween decorations were hanging on by a thread, the ‘wicked witch,’ stuck into his front lawn was literally about to take flight. Ian was a year older than me when we were little, but now it seems like he’s so much more. I watched as the raindrops made heart-shaped prints on his car window, which he carelessly left in the middle of his driveway.
“Ian! Give it back!” I cried, as Ian dangled my teddy bear above my head.
“Catch me first!”
“IAN!” I cried, running after him onto the street, narrowly making it to his front lawn before we heard a car zoom behind us. “Ian! Give it baaack!” I whined, grabbing his free hand and reaching for my bear with the other. My pudgy fingers skimmed over it’s foot before he said, “Here, take it,” tossing it to the ground like he never wanted it in the first place. “Thank you.” I said defiantly, and began to walk home before he called out to me, “wait!”
I turned around, looking at his baby face, his childhood chub clinging to his cheeks and puffy hands. “Come to the park with me.”
The candle glimmered on and off before a breath of wind swooped in and blew it out entirely, and I sat alone in the darkness once again. I liked it more this way. The darkness was quiet, it was a dark purple velvet cape, it was music notes whispering in between dust particles and oxygen. I lit another match. The sparks flew into the air, then flickered away in a matter of seconds. I held the flame in between my pointer finger a thumb and stared at the part where the blue melts into orange until a soft film of water coated my eyes, and I gingerly placed the match in the candle and watched the flame evolve and the smell of apples return to my bedroom.
“Ducky, you’re so stupid,” Ian sighed
“Stop calling me Ducky. What’s the right answer then?”
“Who do you think I am, your slave? No, look at these numbers. Ducky, when you add a negative number you’re subtracting, dumbass.”
“Algebra is stupid.” I replied, erasing my previous work as Ian stood above me. I subtracted the 27 instead of adding it, divided by 3 and circled the negative 9. “Good. Done with question one.” Ian sighed, sitting down in the seat next to me. We were at my kitchen table, with writing and glitter engraved in the wood and the chairs squeaking each time you pulled out a seat.
“We can take a break.”
“The faster you finish the faster I can do my homework. Come on Ducky just do it.”
Ian was the only one who held onto the nickname he gave to me when I was 6, and just because I was in 8th grade now didn’t change the fact that I was and would always be Ducky. I looked at him and he looked at me, his now long hair dangling in front of his eyes. He forced a crooked smile and pointed at the page.
“Well? Question 2?”
The rain was unrelentless, hammering my window like bullets and creating a barrier between my house and the outside world. The only thing I could see beyond the rain was a flickering streetlamp, trying to hold on to the little bit of light that it was shedding on the grim street. It was almost beautiful. Beautifully miserable. It was like a monster crying, his tears of loneliness and sorrow flooding the world below him. It was practically midnight. You could almost catch a glimpse of the stars peeking out between raindrops.
“Look, Ducky. It’s the big dipper.” Ian pointed into the distant milky way, his eyes lighting up with excitement as he showed me each star that made up the big dipper, then the little dipper, and then Orion’s belt. I was the only one who knew how much he loved the stars. And I began to love them too. “How many constellations are there Ian?”
“Infinite. It’s like connect the dots, except there’s no right way. Look Ducky, if you connect those few over there it looks like an eye, and those 5 over there it looks like a house. Space is infinite.” He light up like a ball of sunshine as he looked up into the cosmos. I could see his imagination spinning in his brain, fireworks exploding out of his mind. I’d never seen him so insanely happy.
As the clock ticked one, I began putting on my plum-colored rain boots, obnoxious yellow raincoat and umbrella we got from our trip to Paris. I concluded that I looked like a rainbow that threw up, grabbed an extra blue scarf and snuck out the back door silently. The rain pounded against my umbrella as soon as I stepped outside, and I felt chills roll down my spine as ice-cold mist sprayed my face. Puddles lined the street, each one deeper than the next, each one waiting, patiently to be turned into a small chunk of rainbow once the rain cleared away. I picked up the witch that flew into the middle of the road and brought it to Ian’s front door. I opened the gate to the backyard, and tapped on the first window on the left, Ian’s room. Sure enough he was wide awake, reading his book by flashlight. He came to the window and pointed to the front door. I walked back around and there he was waiting with an open door. “You’re a dumbass.”
“Your witch blew over.” I pointed at the witch on the porch. He smiled, and his rhinestone eyes twinkled. He pulled me into his arms, my soaking wet jacket leaving wet stains on his flannel. We said nothing, but our thoughts were tangled together, our pasts finally meshing with the present. “You shouldn’t be out this late, Ducky,” he said squeezing me tighter.
“I miss you Ducky,” he whispered even quieter.
“I miss you too.” I could tell he was smiling, and I’m sure that he could tell I was too. Rain filled the silence, the comforting silence, the silence you appreciate and remember more than you remember most words. And there we stood, on his porch surrounded in our past, coated in rain, tangled in each others arms, happier than we’d ever been before.