He can see the storm cloud approaching as he comes down the hill to Foggy Bottom. He feels the first drops, heavy and thick on his scalp and arms — real water splashing on his skin. Ahead, the umbrellas pop and flutter like too-fat birds. They flock to the escalator funnel, diving down underground, seeking dark shelter from the storm. He stops in front of a lamp post and turns his face to the rain. Weighted drops pepper his eyelids, lips and tongue. In a landscape of gray and glass he can feel the rain, smell the earth and know he is alive.
Up against the wall on an empty street, the cold cutting through my leather gloves and wool cap. I’m on my way to the job, the tie round my neck pinching, my earbuds blaring the Pogues and a last drag of the cigarette before throwing it to the gutter. Across the way, they’ve started the fire in the pub. I wish I was there with you again, drinking coffee and pints and watching a Friendly. We’d listen in silence to the announcer’s smooth call – the thunder and echo of the chants – and we’d be close again.
There is nothing in my head right now except for this blank stare. My mind is soft and racing and failing to focus or land on anything of even remote interest. Perhaps the coffee’s not strong enough or I haven’t had enough of it. I pour another cup, scroll through the RSS feed and find nothing. The page is blank.
The splash of a drink hit her sandals as she shuffled by. She felt the cold drops on her feet just before she registered the pop of the break and the slip of the wet glass from her fingers. She wavered backwards for just a moment, held the back of her wrist to her forehead and shouted, “Watch your feet!” She took her seat in the corner and wiggled her pretty wet toes. This was Saturday.
She sits at the bus stop alone while others stand around her embarrassed to look, their day feeling ruined. Her papers are spread out before her, unfolded — dirty, soft and creased with age. She scans the pages with intent and voraciousness looking for clues for how she got here and why — knowing the answers lie in the scraps before her. She polishes the paper with her finger speeding across the pages, back and forth like a centipede trapped in a shoebox. The bus comes from down the block; the people line up in an orderly fashion; she folds up her papers and gathers her things, finding no answers.
Four AM, your mind is racing, the heat is rising. You get up, go out the back door and sit in the long grass at the edge of the forest. Sweat beads up on your forehead and stays there like a halo. Through the trees you see the shadow of a fox loping down the dry creek bed. He stops at a stagnant puddle next to a fading beer can, takes a few laps of brown water and moves on — well prepared for the coming heat.
He stood on the edge of the old C & O building and looked out over High Street. Anything anybody had was gone to ruin — covered in muck or carried off into oblivion. The people came out in the piercing sun and wool-blanket humidity to pick through the remains and find what they’d lost. He had no attachments and the freedom to move on. He turned from the edge of the roof and never looked back.