Copyright © 2014 DANI HART
Part I EDITED by Paige Smith




            Watching the rain pound on the ground day after day was more exhausting than running a 5K, although I wouldn’t know, since I had never attempted one. I had never even thought about running a 5K, let alone a sprint around the track, but I would make a deal with the devil and run a marathon at this point if it would get the rain to stop already. Something hit me in the back of the head, knocking me out of my momentary stupor. “Ouch.” I spun away from the dreary day before me to face my little sister.
            “I’m bored,” she spat out.
            “Yeah, so?” I snatched up the stupid pink pig with freakishly large eyes and launched it at her face. She was too quick and evaded the impact, but I was prepared and chucked my square pillow like a ninja star before she had time to recover from the pig. It nailed her right in the mouth. I doubled over laughing.
            “Ow, jerk.” She rubbed her mouth.
            Dawn could have been my twin, only she adorned our genetically given blonde locks, while I chose to streak mine with whatever color I felt like at any given time. This month, it was turquoise. Last month, it was pink.  I toyed with the idea of dying my hair black, but just the mention of it gave my mom a near heart attack. She had been through enough, so I chose to stick to the streaks. Those she tolerated quietly. Dawn was tall and skinny, although she was ganglier than me. I used to dance, so my muscle definition was better. Our eyes were a stunning cobalt blue that we inherited from my dad.
            “Don’t start something you can’t finish. Now, get out.” I turned back to the dreary expanse before me.
            “What’s your deal today?” she asked with her snarky sophomore tone. She was still timid as a freshman, but now that she was a year older and on the dance squad, she had found her mean girl voice. I was surprised she made the dance team, because she had only started practicing a few years ago, but she proved to be a natural. Unlike me, who started at age two and worked my ass off to get to where she was now. Any normal sister would have been jealous, but I was proud. She needed something to keep her busy, to keep her mind off things when they were bad.
            The question alone had a weird feeling rise in my chest, one I rarely let pass my throat and most definitely not my eyelids. If the rain would stop, this wouldn’t be so damn hard.
          “Fine, whatever. I wanted you to go to the mall with me, but that’s obviously not happening.” 
           She slammed the door, leaving me alone again to observe the steam rise from the wind pressure of the raindrops on the street. Any other time, I would have marveled at the simple beauty of the layering low fog, but not today. Instead, today I counted the drops of rain that raced down the window pane, waiting for the clock to move past midnight. A new day was what I needed. And, for the rain to stop!
            My senior year was supposed to be the best year of my life. Or at least that’s what I always heard. You were cream of the crop, top of the world. I was even on my way to a full scholarship to a coveted dance studio just a few hours away, but instead, I spent most of my days in my room or at a nearby overlook, and my dance shoes had long since been forgotten, collecting dust at the bottom of my closet somewhere.
            So much had changed since last year. Something I had never told anyone. It was a secret I cherished and would let bury me if it meant I didn’t have to share it with anyone. It was as if sharing it would make the magic dissipate like fireworks plummeting until they fizzled out. While the end result landed me in a comatose state of shock, the journey was etched in my heart for eternity. I had changed. For better or for worst was yet to be determined.
            A pebble smashing on my window startled me. My bed where I had made permanent seat for the rain dance outside was only a few feet from the window, so leaning over was suffice to see my caller. It was Reid. I knew why he was here. Same reason that kept me locked behind closed doors of my own free will. I pried open my window, which was no small feat. We lived in a ‘historical’ house just outside of Seattle, Washington, in Snoqualmie. With so many new homes being built around us, I was shocked my mom moved us into this one. She said she liked the old world charm. Needless to say, opening the windows was only one of many ‘historical’ challenges.
            I popped my head out, taking care to stay underneath the protective overhang above. We lived in a one-story ranch-style house, so it made sneaking out pretty easy. Not that I did that…not anymore, at least. Reid stood a few feet from me, getting rain soaked. “Dude, you know you’re getting wet, right?”
            He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back on the large Alder tree that seemed out of place amongst all the pine trees of the forest. It was like the redheaded stepchild of the area. I did love it, though. It had a glorious white layering of bark that encapsulated a thick trunk that boasted its ripe old age of hundreds of years. Or so I imagined. The tree provided some coverage from the rain, so while Reid was already drenched, he at least had a moment of reprieve. But honestly, I didn’t think he cared about the rain.
            “Hey,” the only word to escape his lips, solemnly.
            I shrugged. It was going to be that kind of moment. It crossed my mind this might happen, but I was kind of hoping to live my misery in solitude. “Give me a sec.” He didn’t respond. I closed the window, threw on my Doc Martens, and darted for the front door, narrowly escaping detection by my mom who was sitting by the fire reading a book. It wasn’t like I couldn’t go outside or even leave for that matter. I just didn’t have it in me to explain what I was doing. My mom was a talker, and I used to love that about her, but now I preferred to live in my head, alone. I would feel bad for avoiding her, but she had my sister, and God knows she loved to talk.
            I closed the door quietly and stepped onto the porch. Reid had nestled himself on the white swinging bench, so I sat next to him. “What are you doing here?” I swear, I could face palm myself right now. I knew why he was here, and he knew I knew why he was here. It was a stupid question, but I didn’t know what else to say. Instead of slapping myself silly, I sighed and followed with, “Never mind. Don’t answer that. That was lame.” I started my habitual ritual of biting my nails, something I did when I was nervous, and right now, my anxiety was at an all-time high. I hadn’t talked to Reid since… in a while.
            “I just needed to be around you,” he rattled off quietly.
            My heart was pounding so hard it was actually painful. It made me cough loudly.
            “You okay?” he asked.
            His brows furrowed in mild amusement at my sudden attack. I hit him in the shoulder between spastic lapses.
            “No, really, should I get you some water? There’s plenty of it.” He rang out his shirt, cupping water into his hand.
            The coughing finally ceased. “Ha-ha, funny.” I went back to biting my nails, but my heart had calmed a bit. Why was this so hard? I wanted to say more, but everything fell short of my lips, so we both just sat there together and watched the unrelenting rain attack the earth like a commune of rabid beasts preying on a flock of sheep.
            Hours could have passed, but it was different then when I was alone in my room. It wasn’t as torturous with Reid. Somehow his mere presence, albeit lacking in conversation, made today okay. Then, he stood up and shattered my hope of midnight coming and going without me being the wiser.
            “I should go,” he announced.
            The soft glow of the porch light illuminated his olive eyes. They matched the colors of the forest that surrounded us. His face was smooth and had more than a few girls at the high school swooning. When he stepped out into the rain, the light reflected off the drips of water on his thick and well-defined biceps. He had been the quarterback last year. This year was different for him, too. I pictured his football helmet and jersey in a hidden pile in a dark corner of the closet, collecting the same dust as my ballet shoes.
            We were eternally broken.
            One moment had redefined our lives.
            And now a shared memory… no wait. That wasn’t right. A nightmare. Yeah, that sounded more fitting.
           And now a shared nightmare dictated our dismal futures.



            I slammed the door. What the hell is her problem? I went back to my room and scooped up my phone as I threw myself on my zebra blanket. I made myself comfortable on my back and texted Isa.
            Me: This rain sucks.
The text bubble popped up signifying her immediate response.
            Isa: Yeah it does. What are you doing?
            Me: Nothing. My stupid sister won’t go to the mall.
            Isa: I can pick you up.
            Me: Awesome!
            Isa: Be there in 20.
            Me: Cool
I hopped out of bed and threw my phone in my purse. With this humidity my hair didn’t stand a chance. I shuffled into the shared bathroom right outside in the hall and threw it into a messy knot, letting a few blonde strands frame my face. I was having a good skin day after a bout with a horrifying breakout last week, so I didn’t need any cover up. I was grateful because in this rain it wouldn’t stand a chance and I dreaded having streaks down my face. My friends could be on the cruel side sometimes and the last girl they had targeted had the streaks. Granted, it was pretty bad and hard not to notice, but they were pretty mean about it. I liked my friends, but at times they made me cringe when they opened their mouths.
Isa was different. She wasn’t on the dance team, so I didn’t feel like I had to be somebody else with her. She was simple and sweet and just easy to be around. She was the first person I met when we moved here and we had been best friends ever since. She didn’t object when I told her I wanted to join the dance team, but she did warn me how they were. Since then we’ve never really talked about them. She understood the politics of the school dynamic and let me play the game without offense even when it meant ignoring her, which luckily only happened once. It made me feel awful so I didn’t let it happen again. I told the girls she was my friend and off limits. I wasn’t one to speak up, so they complied knowing pigs had just flown.
I put on my favorite colored Burt’s Bee lip balm, shut off the lights and dug out my rain boots from my closet that my mom bought me for my last birthday. They were zebra, of course. I was kind of obsessed with animal print patterns. It was weird how opposite Justice and I were now. She was all punk rebel and I was trendy hipster. We used to have the same taste, but I’m not sure how much of that was by choice. I got a lot of her hand-me-downs, so I just wore what I was given. After puberty hit her clothes didn’t fit me right anymore. I was all bones compared to her and was slightly jealous of her toned body. It was one of the reasons I took up dance. That and because my dad had always loved watching her dance, so I wanted a piece of that. Unfortunately, it was too late. By the time I joined, my dad had already left and his visits became non-existent after only a couple of months.
A notification ring filled the room, so I plucked my phone out of my purse to check it. Isa was here. I tugged on the boots, grabbed my purse, and ran down the hallway. My mom was sitting in the corner reading a book by the fire. Anyone else would look at her and think how peaceful it must be, but I knew better. She took up reading obsessively after my dad left. It was her escape from him. Unfortunately, it became her escape from us too. We used to chat all the time about anything and everything and now it seemed almost like a burden. I knew she was just coping any way she could, but it was hard. I had already lost my dad and I felt like I lost a little piece of my mom too.
“Hey, mom?” I asked cautiously.
She looked up from her book. “Yeah, hon?”
“Is it okay if I go to the mall with Isa?” I probably should have asked before she idled outside my driveway.
“Isn’t she already here?” Her eyebrow raised.
“Yeah. Sorry. I should have asked first.”
“It’s fine. Have fun.” She looked back down at the page.
            “Thanks. I’ll be back in a few hours.”
“Okay, honey. Be safe.”
I threw open the door and prepared myself for the run to Isa’s car. It was a steady down pour, so I estimated it would take less than three seconds for me to look like a pathetically soaked rat. I popped back in the house and grabbed my rain jacket out of the coat closet, stealing a glance over at my mom who was now staring out the window wiping her own rain from her face. It broke my heart to see her so sad. When would it get better?
I grabbed the jacket quietly, careful not to embarrass her and ran back outside. Throwing on the hood I jumped into the trenches of the first rain storm of the season. Isa was a junior and drove a monster truck. Okay it wasn’t really a monster truck, but it was big. It was her older brother’s, but she was using it while he was away at college in New York. She looked so tiny behind the wheel. I imagined it was comical to passer-bys with us two driving in it.
I jerked open the door and almost slipped on the running board when I launched myself up. Thankfully I landed in the seat and not on the pavement like last time.
“You made it in,” she chuckled.
“Thank god! I still have a bruise on my ass from the last fall,” and I really did. It was a faded ugly mustard yellow color, but it was still evidence of my clumsiness. The only time I was graceful was when I was dancing. Other than that, I was a walking calamity. I tore off my wet jacket and threw it by my feet.
“So your sister’s still being a butt?” She asked.
“That’s one way to put it,” I looked off into the rain as she left the house, doing a double take thinking I saw something by the tree outside of Justice’s window, but brushed it off when my house was out of sight.
            “Do you think she’ll ever be normal again?”
            “I don’t know. I mean, I lost a dad too and you don’t see me sulking in my room every day and ruining my hair. She’s being lame.”
            “Do you think there’s more to it?”
            “Huh? Like what?”
            “I don’t know. It just seems like there must be more.”
            I didn’t want to admit it that I suspected the same thing, but Justice and I weren’t close anymore, so she hadn’t confided in me.
            “Wow, that was a downer convo. New subject. How are things with Reid?”
            I loved her. She always knew when things were getting too heavy. She was beautiful inside and out. The first thing that caught my eye when I met her was her exotic flare. She had dark naturally sun-kissed skin, dark walnut shaped eyes and jet black hair. She always wore her hair down and I hated her for the sheer fact that it never had a sign of frizz. She didn’t need makeup because her skin was always flawless and her lips were full and pouty. And of course, she had a perfect body to match. She was shorter than me and had voluptuous curves that warranted a second look at impact. “Things are slow, but good. He’s been a little MIA lately, but it’s not like we’re exclusive so I can’t really give him a hard time for it.”
            “Yeah that wouldn’t be cool. You don’t want to come off like some crazy stalker chick…yet,” she looked over and winked.
            “It’s fun right now.” I had been fawning over Reid after spotting him on the football field at my debut halftime dance. The cheerleaders owned the game, but the dance team owned half-time. There was a weird riff between the two groups, but some did both so it kept things to a simmer. I had never gone to a football game, or any sporting event for that matter, until I joined dance. It had broadened my horizons in many ways like friendships, but also boyfriend potentials. Boys actually noticed me after I joined the team, but after I locked eyes with Reid he was the only one I cared to notice me. He was on the sidelines while we did our routine and looked pretty distracted, but then we had a moment and I was doomed to chase him for the rest of my high school life. It took a year, but we had finally started seeing each other casually a few months ago. I wish it would progress to more than casual soon.
            “When are you getting your license? You’re the only person I know who didn’t jump at the chance when turning legal.”
            “It’s not huge on my list of priorities. Besides, I don’t have a car. My sister already shares with my mom, so three’s a crowd, you know? Besides, I have you.”
            “For now,” she teased.
            We hung at the mall for a couple of hours, which was packed because of the rain, but my lack of funds had taken the thrill away. I wanted to hang with Reid, but he hadn’t texted me back from yesterday and I didn’t want to come off needy so I was waiting very impatiently for him to respond.
            After we pulled up to the house I gave Isa a quick hug and made the three foot drop. The landing sent tingles through my feet, something that started happening after I took up dance. I blamed it on overworking them.
As soon as I slammed the door Isa drove off. I was about to race for the front door when a shadow by the garage caught my eye, so my original destination took a turn in that direction. I was surprised when Reid stepped into the dismal light shining from the front porch, but I was excited. A surprise visit was way better than a text message. I ran up to him grinning like an idiot. “Hey,” I said with way too much enthusiasm.
He was quiet and stand-offish. I also noticed he was drenched. “Oh my god. How long have you been out here? Come inside and get out of the rain.”
“I can’t stay.”
His voice was flatter than a piece of paper. I couldn’t disguise the disappointment in my voice, “Oh. So then why did you come?”
“I don’t know.”
That hurt a little. “You never texted me back yesterday.”
“Yeah, sorry. I’ve just been dealing with some stuff.”
“It’s okay.” I was hoping for more of a conversation, but it didn’t happen. Things were normally so easy with us. Fun. Right now was not. It was uncomfortable.
“I need to go,” he said as he walked down the driveway.
I didn’t know what else to say. There was obviously something wrong, but he wasn’t sharing. “Hey, where’s your car?”
“I walked,” he said as the mist from the rain enveloped him.
He lived a few miles away, so I was stunned by his response. He walked that far to not talk? Something was off, but what I wasn’t privy to yet.

Raw, unedited, and subject to changes


  1. Very descriptive, and I'm intrigued!

  2. I really , really want to know what happened to these two?