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Rain. Wet, cold, slippery rain. I don’t know why, but it has always been an interest of mine… more than an interest, actually, more of an infatuation. It just seems so magical to me, the way that the water sprang from the sky, landing on the earth with a pleasant plop sound. When it rained, the world changed. All the hatred and cursing became the sun; barely there and struggling to be seen. Only the good was there.
It was this cheery view of something that most found draining and unwelcome that brought him to me. He, like the rain, just needed someone to appreciate him, to see his darkness as light. He wasn’t eerie, he wasn’t dull, and he most definitely wasn’t bad. I saw that, from the moment I first laid eyes on him. He saw that I saw that. I saw that, too.
Eventually, corrections on homework became cute love notes. Quick calls about tests were pulled and stretched until they were hours long. We talked about anything and everything, from the idea of religion to our really deep hatred of our counselor. He asked me about myself, and I gave him answers. I asked him about him, and he gave me responses.
Answers and responses became different things in my eyes. I noticed that while I openly poured my heart out to him, because I trusted him with it, he held back. I knew about his studies, and his personality, and his likes and dislikes, his fears and worries, his family and friends. I knew nothing of his past. I didn’t know what brought him here, to my little corner of the world. Nobody came here, not if they didn’t have to. At least, nobody as perfect as him, as wonderful and as brilliant as him.
The phone call came three months into our relationship. I had been to his house for dinner, he had come to my brother’s birthday party. The differences between us became the building blocks of us; the similarities were the concrete. He was not him, and I was not me. We were us, and everybody knew that.
“Hello?” I asked, my voice bright, for I had seen his name on the caller ID.
That was not his voice. It was his mother’s. Bitter ice closed in around my heart, and it sank slowly. “Hi.”
“Is Brody with you?”
I shook my head, and then realized that she could not see me. “No.” Fear was beginning to grasp me. “Why?”
“He ran away.”
Three little words. I had never heard three words that had affected me so deeply. I stammered, stumbled, mumbled. I was searching for words. She had been right to call here… if I was her, I would have expected my house to be his first stop. Tears welled up in my eyes. “But… why?” It seemed to be the only word I could pronounce at the moment.
“His dad came back.”
His dad. Of course, I thought. In all the time we had known each other, in every conversation we had ever had, his father had never come up once. I had noticed that he had not been there whenever I’d gone over, but I had always assumed he’d been working. All these things made me realize that they were not close, but I hadn’t realized that his father was estranged.
“Aurora… do you have any idea where he might be?”
It was against my better judgment, but I did something then that I had never done before. I lied to an adult. It was not a little white lie, not a fib. I told her I didn’t know where he was, when in fact, I did. Not for sure, of course, but I had the strongest feeling. As soon as I hung up the phone, I grabbed my jacket and got in the car.
He had shown me this place once, but he had talked about it over and over again. If I thought of my town as my corner of the world, he thought of this place as his mouse hole. It was the one place he felt at home, he told me. It was so open, but it felt so enclosed. I had felt it, when I had seen it, but then again, I could have just been feeling his arms around me.
I squinted through the fog and the rain. There was, indeed, a figure standing there, a silhouette that luckily looked a lot like him. Without thinking, I broke into a sprint. My shouts of his name were barely audible over the wind. I didn’t think he had heard me, but he turned. Apparently, he had.
“How did you know?” he cried.
I stood at the edge of the bridge, his bridge. “Your mom called.”
He didn’t say anything. His hand tightened on the railing.
“Your dad, Brody?” I asked, afraid to go much further. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I didn’t think you could handle it.”
“My parents are divorced too,” I reminded him. “Nothing to be ashamed of.”
He shook his head, leaning forward. “It’s so much more than a divorce, Aurora. There are things that you have been sheltered from, and these are things that I have seen and experienced. Things he’s done to me.”
He didn’t have to say anything more. I knew. I didn’t ask any more questions. Carefully, I took a step towards him. He didn’t move. Another step. Good. And another. By the time I reached him, the rain was mixing with my tears. I wrapped my soaked arms around him, pulling him closer to me.
“I’m so sorry…” he whispered.
I bit back a sob. “Don’t be,” I told him. “Things like this are never your fault.”
“I wish I could erase it all.”
I looked up at him, into his beautiful eyes. “Let the rain do all that,” I said.
He kissed my forehead. “I love the rain.”
Finally, I thought. Someone who understands.