The almost end of RBY is nigh and we have two stories left! I am so super glad to see William Hayward’s story about Rain as one of the final two 🙂 It’s a story about…A young man feels affected by the rain, and finds out his neighbour has been too. ~Doc
We’re either lying together or separately. I can never quite tell which when you are this close. Maybe we are just two objects touching. It is raining outside. It’s beating the window like a jumbled song and the drops of rain leak down, down, down into nothing. Half of the window is illuminated from the street lamp outside. The light catching on the drops of rain as they fall from the sky and land on the window. Your body is smooth. Your skin a glistening white and your breasts are heavy and full as you curl into me. I want to talk about the rain as we lie here but I cannot find the words to say anything. I am muted. But the rain seems to mean something tonight. It was raining yesterday too, but it didn’t mean a thing then. I couldn’t feel the rain yesterday and tonight I feel it like a weight on my chest. And how can I explain that. How could I say that to you when none of it means a damn thing.
You snore softly as you sleep, and I want to wake you. I want to touch your soft thighs and kiss you until you wake up. Until we tire ourselves out and I cannot feel that heavy, fear-filled rain pressing down on me. But as I touch your skin more you roll over with a grunt and snore louder. Fending me off. I laugh and get up. I root around in an old drawer and find an old half smoked roll up with crumbling tobacco inside. I light it and open the window slightly. Curling my hand around it to protect it from the rain.
Down on the street, there is no one. Which is strange. Usually, there are cars streaming past with music trickling from half-open windows. But tonight, the rain is in command. It hammers the pavement in protest of something. And I realise why it makes me so sad tonight. I can see loving you to the beat of this rain. It is like a song played by the sky and I am wasting this song just as everybody else is. They are probably huddled like me in the warmth and shelter. Men and women like me are probably watching their sleeping lovers. Their naked body’s twisted in bed sheets. Letting everything go to waste. This song. That boner. Everything. Our wastefulness makes me sad tonight.
I flick the half butt out into the empty street and watch it bounce until a mini stream takes it away to a drain. I turn back towards you and I whisper something under my breath that even I can’t hear. I don’t want to waste the night, but I am afraid of waking you. I am afraid of your smooth skin tonight. Afraid that tonight it won’t want my hands, my teeth, my lips. But what if it doesn’t? For god sake Will get some sense into your head. The flesh beneath her skin might. Or if not the flesh then perhaps the mind. And if even the mind rejects me then the eyes will tell me the truth. They understand what even you and I cannot. They understand the rain and what it means to me. They understand my desire and my lust tonight. They do not reject or judge. They just smile. So I reach for you and I pull you to me and I don’t let go until your eyes spring open and I am ignoring the rain and its song and even the night seems to turn white as all I can see is your skin.
Afterwards, with a deep sigh, you turn away from me and fall back asleep. Not even affected. And the rain has stopped. Leaving behind only it’s patterns on our rooms windows and a sound of splashing from below as finally, the cars start their patrolling. Still, the night hadn’t changed. I cannot sleep though the heaviness has lifted from my chest. I feel calm and stable and I can hold you and think clearly. But something lingers in the air and I am unsure what it is. I missed whatever the sky was trying to tell me, and I’m sure I’ve missed many beautiful things tonight. You are snoring again. Heavy and deep. Unconcerned. Like timber falling. It is a healthy sound. Interrupted only by a sudden knock on the door that makes me jump. I listen closely and breath deep in relief when I hear the familiar croaky breathing of the old man who lives just across from me. I don’t know him that well but we sometimes share a beer on the smoking balcony that is shared by all the rooms on our floor.
I hesitate before opening the door. Unsure of what he wants. I pull the door halfway open and look out into the dark corridor. He is standing there in a half-open dressing gown. His dark skin glistening with sweat or water. He is holding an open bottle of beer and closed one that he offers out to me. I take it and smile my thanks in confusion. He is drunk, and he peers over my shoulder at your naked back.
“Heard your girl a while back” he grins at me. Turning around, he looks over his shoulder at nothing before looking back at me and whispers “My god she squeals”. And starts laughing manically. I mutter “Oh I’m sorry” and give a nervous laugh. Half amused by his bizarre behaviour. I can smell the beer strongly on his breath. Too strong for just the one. He must have been drinking all night and I wonder if he felt the heaviness too.
“Did you hear mine?” He asks with a thin smile that looks almost fearful as he gestures towards his closed door as if I could see her through it.
“No” I reply. ” I couldn’t hear anything over that rain. It was drowning out everything.”
He smiles again at this and whispers, “Now that’s what I call a scream” and chuckles. Uncaring that I hadn’t heard his company’s noises. Unafraid that he appeared lonely tonight. He put a finger up to his lips and creeps over to his room and pushes open his bedroom door with exaggerated slowness so that the door won’t creak. Inside I can see an arm spread over the side of his unmade bed. Tan and young. Too tan and young for him and I’m sure he knows it. He giggles with insane glee at my raised eyebrows and downs his beer in one. Happy with the proof of his masculinity.
“I bet you would love a go” He grins at me as he gestures back towards his door and the woman sleeping quietly inside. He has a point I think as I look again at the long, naked arm. But I smile and say.
“I’m okay for tonight, my friend. Maybe another day when the rain starts up again” I laugh. His face falls at this and looks almost angry and I think about the beauty this old man has in his bed tonight. He could have ignored the rain and been satisfied with nothing. But he is here at my door leering with bloodshot eyes at your naked back and I can see desperation and fear eating at his eyes. I say thank you for the beer and mutter that I am tired as I start to close the door. But his arm shoots through the gap when he sees the door start to close and grabs my arm with a soft cry of “Wait!” I pull the door back open “What is it?” I sigh.
“I need your help with something” He whispers and looks around again at nothing. He starts walking back towards his room, pulling so hard on my arm that I have no choice but to follow. With a last look at your body, I walk out and shut the door.
We walk across the small hall and into his room. And I am surprised that It looks almost identical to my own, apart from a small chess board in the place where my typewriter sits. He is standing next to his bed and fidgeting nervously as if he is waiting for me to speak. He points at the girl’s body and I walk over so I can look more closely at her. The tanned arm that I could see before stretches up to an equally tanned body which is spread naked over his unmade bed. The tanned body is attached to a face so beautiful it could cripple you. The full lips are naturally red and lie open. It is a moment before I realise that they are stretched into a kind of grimace and that she is not breathing. Then I see the dark bruises around her neck. Purple and black and almost hidden by the swoop of her hair. She looks terrified and I feel the thick heaviness land with a welcoming thud back onto my chest.
“What the fuck did you do!” I half whisper half shout at him as I back up towards the now closed door. He is for some reason still grinning, though his face is covered in fear and tears are starting to fall from his eyes. He holds his hands out to me in desperation as he speaks.
“It wasn’t my fault.” He says pleadingly. “I picked her up at a bar downtown and I swear I didn’t know she was a whore. I brought her back here and when she told me I just felt so angry. She is just so beautiful, and I kept fucking and fucking and she kept just looking almost blankly at me. As if daring me to make her feel something you know? So, I started to choke her because I heard that that’s what young girls like now and she started moving underneath me for the first time. I just wanted to make her feel something. I swear I thought she was enjoying it. I swear I did. I didn’t know she couldn’t breathe. I didn’t!”
He was sitting next to her body as he said all this. Absentmindedly stroking her hair with tears pouring down his face.
“She was just so beautiful” He whispers.
“What the fuck do you want me to do here?” I ask desperately. “Look at her. No one will believe that this was an accident.”
“So, what should I do then.” He moans “You’re a smart kid, I see you reading those books all the time. Tell me what to do.” He is rocking back and forth now, cradling her head that has somehow made its way into his lap.
“How would I know about something like this!” I almost shout. I take a deep breath as I try to lower my voice and say “Either bury the body or go to the police. I don’t know anything. But I can’t help you anymore. I have to get out of here.” I scramble for the door handle and open it halfway.
“Please don’t leave me alone” He starts sobbing. “I don’t know what to do.”
I pause for a second as I stand by the door. “It was the rain. It did something to me” He swears as he raises his eyes to look at me.
“I’m sorry” I mutter. “I can’t help with this” and I start to back out of the room and watch him as he starts shaking her head and whispers “Please wake up. Please”
I open my door and close it quietly, blocking out the noises coming from across the hall. You are still lying there. Snoring in your sleep. Your skin is still dazzling white and the light of the street lamp is still highlighting the raindrops on the window. I crawl back into the sheets with you and pull you close to me. You are separate from everything. I want you to stop me thinking. God, I am scared, and I can hear the symphony of the rain start up again and my heart is beating fast and hard. I think about the old man across the hall, cradling that beautiful woman’s head in his lap. I wonder what he will do and if he knows it is raining again. I wonder if he knows what the rain means tonight. I wonder if you do.
William Hayward was born in 1999. He has been writing for five years, ever since he first and fell in love with short fiction.