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Gone Too Soon

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That night, it rains.
Not a light rain, like a sprinkle. Ohhh no. It pours. Bucketfuls. Thunder rolls every few minutes. It rains enough for my father to look up from his morning paper, and make my mother go "Oh!" before returning to her knitting. That is my first sign that this rain is different. The animals had been in an uproar when I put them in the barn for the night, moments before the storm had started. Animals always know.

I sit by the window in the living room, watching the water run down the glass in sheets. Lightning strikes and I see it. If I had been looking directly at it, I never would have discovered it. I rise.

"I'll be back..." I mumble as I grab my jacket and shove my shoes onto my feet. Neither parent looks up as I run past them, nor when the door blows open with the wind. I slip out without being pursued: my second sign that this was no accident. I slosh into the field, going to where I saw it last. Lightning brings night into day and it is once again outlined. I am getting close.
Almost...almost...and then I reach it. Just the idea of a girl, in a simple dress, hair hanging in her face in wet streaks, and yet she is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. Her brown eyes wide and knowing, she stares at me. She has a wild look to her. Her smile lights up the night better than the lightening ever could. She reaches out her hand for me to take. I do not disappoint her. And then we run. Hand in hand we run through the pouring rain, across the field, our every footfall bringing up puddles that can do nothing to soak us further, but try anyway.
My feet lose track of the earth, floating in space...and then I am looking into the clouds, raindrops pelting my face. I don't mean to, but I take her down with me. She looks over to me, wet hair hanging in her face, and laughs. Throws her head back and laughs. I laugh too, if only for hearing hers. Her beautiful laugh. She stands, our hands still locked, pulling me with her. A faint smile still resting on her lips. We run. Off the property. Into the woods. We dart between trees. Leap over roots.
"Where will we go?" I ask between jumps.
"To the end."
There. There. Something tugs at the back of my mind. I swat it away, like a fly, but it persists. 'Don't...don't...' it tells me. Still, we run. She stops, and the tugging grows more urgent. 'No! Turn back...' I furrow my brows, but cannot concentrate. She tilts her head, angles it to the sky. Takes a step past the trees. And another. Another. Stands in the middle of the road, beckoning. She smiles at me. And I remember.
Images of rain. Running. Trees. Smiles...and cars. No, not cars. Trucks. Semi-trucks. So big our little back road can hardly accommodate it, but it fades into the darkness, practically invisible, at night. Except for the lights. The lights that were hidden behind a turn until the last second...
She takes another step. I try to call out, but my voice betrays me. I hear the horn. See the bright light caused by neither lightening nor her smile. See her turn a final time, eyes wide, but at peace. That smile again. Then she's gone.

I open my eyes. I am curled in a ball, under a tree. The rain has stopped. I look into the road. No body. No truck driver looking for a pulse. No officer asking, "Are you all right, son?" while my eyes scream at him I am not all right and would he not call me son? but my lips form "Yessir."

Just me. Here, in the darkness, under a tree, my tears flow freely. "Come back..." I sob to the night, the stars, whatever will listen and bring her back. I tuck into myself further, not attempting to leave. Not yet. Maybe, if I stay, she will return. Maybe I can see her again. Be with her.
Maybe, just maybe, they'll










take













me















too.



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