Salt Rain

The sky was crying.
Huge fat drops of it fell from the clouds. Pitter patter it went, first shyly, questioning, as if still uncertain, then speeding up with a spurt of adrenaline only to end all too quickly, too cruelly, in messy splotches of unspoken last words, if-onlys, and countless could-have-beens.

The sky was crying.

The ill-fated ensemble knocked carelessly against the cold surface of bleak black umbrellas and slick yellow raincoats. It ran unheedingly down the hunched backs of pedestrians doubled over with the weight of both wet and dry worldly issues; of broken dreams, of bills to pay, of mouths to feed. It worked itself into the cracks of buildings, as if, after a lifetime of loneliness and insignificance out by the gates of heaven, the confinement of this material world was a comfort, a much-needed companion. It landed with an apologetic bounce on the cobblestone roads and convened together into puddles of self pity, reaching in all directions for warmth and affection and drawing up empty.

They were an unhappy bunch, these rippling pools of sorrow. Many who walked by avoided them like the plague. They would glance at its murky depths with a disinterested eye, or curse under their breath whenever one got too close. One ruffled man, with his collar upturned so as to protect his delicate ears from the elements, spat unkindly into a particularly miserable-looking party. Those who approached them did so only out of spite, for they trampled heartlessly down upon these poor wrenches and laughed in their high elvish voices as their victims were wrung from each other’s arms and flung high up into the air.

The sky bade witness to it all, and alone, the sky was crying.

Stepping out from under the overhang and into the grief, she looked up. The cool droplets landed, one after another, onto her face, creating little streams that twisted, turned, and interlocked as they raced down her forehead and cheeks. The corner of her lips caught at one of these streams, and a little pink tongue poked its way out.
Salty.

The girl stopped where she stood under the rain, facing the sidewalk and its roaring, tumbling river of umbrellas, newspapers, and suitcases, and closed her eyes.

Up above, the sky was crying.

Across the street, the plump old man who lived downstairs had taken temporary refuge under the entrance of the bakery and was gingerly tipping out the rainwater that had collected in the brim of his hat. So concentrated was he in this act that no notice was paid to the shiny bald top exposed to the world at large. A head so polished it was often employed as a mirror by a pair of silently mirthful faces belonging to the floor above.

But today, only the sky saw what that smooth surface had to offer.
And only the sky was crying.

In the little alleyway on her left, the cat who lived behind the butcher’s on 5th and Queens was crawling under a discarded tangerine crate, mewing discontentedly all the while about the matted state of its fur. The stray who liked fish balls in tarter sauce and secretly answered to the name Josephine, even though she was a he. The one who purred whenever they scratched under his chin or ran their palms down his back.

She would have seen all this and more if only she’d cared to look.
But she did not.

And the sky was crying.

Nearby, a family of sparrows twittered as they huddled under the eaves. Somewhere to her right, a pair of shutters closed with a wind-assisted bang. A bus rumbled by, its wheels parting miniature seas underfoot. The church clock struck desperately, for its voice was all but lost under the din of a million moaning voices as the rain continued to fall.

Overhead, the street lamps flickered on, one by one, throwing misty shadows over the river of people, which by now had tricked down into a thin stream.

Batting the drops off her eyelashes, she reached for her phone. The familiar screen awoke to her touch, its soft glow enveloping without warmth her face and fingertips.

She scrolled through a list of the familiar and unfamiliar, searching without seeking for the one she needed. Her finger hovered over it, hesitant.

The sky was crying.
A droplet of it landed with a dull thud onto the bright LED screen, diffusing its contents with splashes of rainbow shards and obscuring her from what she was about to do.
Sometimes, not seeing is a blessing.

A swipe. The streaks of rain in her palm turned bright red.

Slowly, softly, she tapped its surface.
And slowly, softly, the rest of her world blurred to match the screen in hands.

 

The sky was crying.
But this time, it was not alone.

word count: 806

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