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?Oh, for God?s sake, of all times, the downpour just had to come right now?? I groaned, holding the palm of my right hand up to my forehead. The scene outside of the hospital window taunted the current situation I had landed myself in at the hospital.
Just three months ago, the wife filed for divorce. She claimed that she could not deal with my financial troubles any longer, and wanted to get out in one piece while she could. But really, was it my fault that the stock market had taken a major downturn a year ago and it just happened that I had not been able to regain all of my assets in such a short time?
Suddenly, I felt pain course throughout my chest area, centering on my heart. I managed to sit up a bit, and after searching around for the nurse call button or whatever it is called, I pressed it once and then fell back onto the bed.
Ever since my twenty-ninth year on earth, I had to take blood pressure medications. At the time, I had barely started my career as a lawyer. Stressful could not even begin to describe it. Unfortunately, I had taken my father?s advice to major in a career that got me plenty of money, but not really an ounce of enjoyment or a sense of fulfillment with it.
Two years later, I met Carolina, the ?love of my life.? However, the circumstances I met her under were not the best. A violent crime had taken place and she was one of the unfortunate people to have witnessed it as it happened, so, she felt the need to come to the stand and tell of what she had seen as she heard the screams of the victim and saw a hazy image of the murder from her place outside of the victim?s home.
Her eyes were the first things to fetch my attention. They were crystal blue, like a slightly iced over pond. Then, her silky voice drew me in in addition to her lean figure, but I knew that I would have to wait until after the case to approach her in any way, and I needed to be careful about it.
The next month I spotted her in a café¬ eating supper by herself. I ordered my food at the counter, and when it reached my hands, I shyly walked over to her table, cleared my throat, and asked, ?May I join you, Miss?? I tried to give off my best impression.
?Hmm?? she voiced, swallowing a bite of mashed potatoes. ?Sure?you?re Edgar Willis, aren?t you? The lawyer!? She laughed and pointed at the seat across from her.
?Yes, yes,? I chuckled, ?I?m that lawyer guy. I must say, you were very brave to take the stand a month ago??
And so, that night we started to get to know each other. Somehow, I acted gentlemanly enough, I assume, because she asked to meet up with me again, and I found that to be fine and dandy.
Lina, as she preferred to be called, turned out to be a charming twenty-four year old, albeit she possessed flaws like any other human being. In the next month or so, she came to trust me enough to allow me to call her my girlfriend and in return she started referring to me as her boyfriend to her friends and family members.
One day, around three months after our official courtship, I was to pick her up from her part-time job at a retail store. However, a front passed over our part of the state and storms fell upon us all. At first, I parked the truck in front of the store, but she did not come out, so after ten minutes idling there, I pulled into a parking space a pretty far piece away because there were no other available spaces.
I pulled out the lone umbrella from the back seat of the vehicle, and upon realizing it could only house one person underneath it, I decided I would use it for myself the way there, but on the way back Lina would use it, no buts about it. I did not want to see her get soaked and get a cold because of my selfishness.
When I reached the sliding doors that led inside the building, I laid eyes upon her and pointed to my umbrella. She shook her head, came out with a zip-up hoodie on, and said she would use that if she had to?
??but to tell you the truth, Ed,? she said laughing, ?I?ve always enjoyed just letting the rain fall upon my head. It?s?refreshing, I guess?? She grinned, took my umbrella and stuffed it into her bag.
?What the hell was that for?? I blurted out, frustration simmering inside me. ?What if I wanted that for my own use?? My hand instinctively reached for her purse, but she slapped it away.
?Well, you aren?t getting it. I want you to experience these droplets fall on you, too. It?s really fun!? she reprimanded me.
I just rolled my eyes at her immaturity and grunted an incomprehensible complaint. In all truth, I deplored water, except for my own consumption and showering. I assumed that my slight fear of water probably had to do with my failure at trying to learn how to swim as a child?I was terrified that I would swallow contaminated water, or, even worse, drown, however improbable that fear was as I had a trained instructor always beside me at the time.
For her, though, I would walk a few seconds in the rain. She grabbed my hand as soon as I let my guard down, and dragged me to a puddle. ?Step in it,? she commanded me.
My mouth gaped open, and I stared at her as if she was crazy. ?What??
?I said, ?step in it,? and by ?it,? I mean that puddle right there,? she pointed.
This time her response came in the form of a slight push, and because I wasn?t ready for it, I stumbled over almost head first onto the pavement. My feet did land in the well-sized puddle, so she got her wish even though the water soaked into my shoes and socks, freezing my toes in the late March wind gusts, which were always cold in Ohio.
?Ah! God! Lina, why?d you do that??
Now, she burst into hysterical laughter and joined me in the puddle, splashing around in it like a little girl. Somehow, she got through to me and I began laughing as well, not paying a care to the few people who passed by us warily. I was too absorbed with my Carolina and her pleasure was all that mattered to me.
Once she got her fill of the rainwater, I took her hand and we made it a point to jump in every other puddle we could find along the way to my truck. Our whole bodies were soaked by the time we reached it, but we did not care. There was a bath waiting for her at her apartment, and a shower at mine.
The next year, we were married in the church we were members at. I do not know exactly why, but I place a significant reason on my early proposal to her on that stormy day full of puddles and childish amusement. She took away most of my fear of water that day.
Fast-forward eight years, and we were blessed with two lovely children, ages five and three. But behind the happiness of our carefully guarded exteriors, my stocks were quickly going down the drain and without those, we basically had nothing besides a barely decent savings account in our local bank that could be drained in only a few months time. I had made a horrible mistake, putting my trust in the stock market.
During this difficult time, I tried to appear my best to my children, but after they would be fast asleep the arguments would begin and I really could almost just feel my blood pressure rise. One night, I had to go for a walk because I was starting to get faint chest pains because of everything wrong happening in my life. I could not believe that everything was so rapidly falling apart.
And then, one day, Carolina shoved the papers in my face, telling me she could not deal with my antics any longer. My heart broke into a million pieces that day. I asked her, ?What about the kids?? She told me we would work out a decent schedule somehow.
So, some time later, we were officially kaput as a married couple. I withdrew into myself and blamed all of our problems on my idiocy. In three months time, I rarely took any of my medicines anymore because I did not care about anything. I was just a pitiful shell of my former self.
That was when I had my heart attack.
Fortunately, Lina was on her way to give me the kids for the weekend. She called 911, they picked me up, and my life was miraculously saved. Beyond that one good deed, though, she left me alone for the most part until the kids wanted to visit me. However, a few days before my departure home, she smiled at me and one of my lame jokes. At least it was a step forward?I could have a tiny glimmer of hope that maybe one day we could at least become friends again.
After a couple of days recuperating, I was released to go back home after the nurse answered my button call and gave me a couple of pain pills with my stronger blood pressure medicine. That was the rainy day, and it reminded me of my sweet and innocent Carolina. It pained me at first, but by the time I took the trip downstairs, I wanted to do something I had not done for such a long time.
I stepped in all of the puddles, jumping from one to the other, on my way to that same truck I had when we had done the same thing together ten years prior.