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The sky had opened up and unleashed its fury upon us. The dark clouds blanketed the sky, smothering any trace of light. The world was drowning; the cracked pavement ran with tears. The trees and shrubs were bent over in battered submission. At least that’s how it seemed that muggy May afternoon, peering out at the pouring rain through fogged up glass. Wind Ensemble rehearsal had just ended, and now my friends and I faced the daunting task of walking to the late bus stop.
It was a brief trek of a hundred yards or so, from the warm safety of the band room to the shelter of a canopy in front of the school building, where the bus sat waiting. But the heavy rain lashed so ferociously at the trees, whipping the bricks of the school building so mercilessly, I must admit I was quite intimidated. I had never seen a storm so ferocious, so terrifying.
“Maybe it’ll let up in a few moments?” my friend suggested, sounding just as I cowed as I felt.
There were murmurs of assent. Clearly the sheer force of the rain had intimidated us all. The five of us stood by the door a few minutes longer, hunched under the weight of loaded backpacks, listening to the steady throbbing of the rain. It was a pulse that drowned out every other sound. The usual whistles of the wind, the singing of the birds, the scuffing of sneakers against the waxed floor, all seemed subdued beneath the ceaseless drumming of water on stone.
“You guys need to get moving!” the band director called as he walked by us in the hall, heading for his office. “ The bus will be leaving in a few minutes.”
My friends and I exchanged glance, daring each other with our eyes. No one was willing to be the first exposed to the howling elements beyond the closed door. The few inches of metal and plastic separating us from the storm were like a barricade. To open it would be inviting in the frightening rain that pounded against the earth.
“Hurry up, girls!” The band director repeated, more insistently this time. He was standing in the hallway now, looking impatiently at us through his thick glasses.
I pulled the hood of my sweater as far over my face as possible, silently chastising myself for forgetting an umbrella. None of us had brought one – we must have looked like a crew of motley soldiers, cringing beneath the shelter of sweaters and backpacks as we flung open the door.
Outside, the rain seemed a thousand times louder. It flung itself in my face, running down my cheeks like tears. It was only a matter of moments before I was soaked to my skin. Blinking my eyes uselessly, trying to see through the droplets on my eyelashes, I ran as quickly as possible toward the canopy. The bright yellow paint of the bus beckoned like a lighthouse through the storm. My friends and I huddled close together, trying to stay dry as we plunged through muddy puddles and splashed along the sidewalk.
Suddenly, the hilarity of the situation struck me. I started laughing. Hysterical, uncontrollable, happy laughter. How useless this was, this whole pursuit. Here I was, trying desperately to stay dry, when I were already sopping wet. With this realization, a feeling of giddy carelessness took over. I made it a point to careen through the biggest puddles I saw, sending huge splashes of water onto my friends. My frantic run slowed to a leisurely stroll, and I felt like bursting into song. The pouring rain no longer seemed dangerous or intimidating; instead, it seemed to be laughing along with me.
I knew I must have looked ridiculous, with my hair dripping and clothes sticking to my body. My friends cast strange glances as me, as I giggled helplessly, water droplets rolling down my nose. And strangely, I didn’t care. The force and power of the driving rain had washed away any earlier fears and worries, leaving me in a state of crazy unadulterated joy.
The rain stopped a few minutes after I clambered aboard the bus. The menacing clouds cleared away to reveal the soothing glow of the afternoon sunshine. Sitting on the bus as it pulled away from the school, dripping all over the faux leather seats, I smiled to myself.