The light rain drummed against the windshield; not much harder than dust falling from the wind with a large drop hitting a bit harder than the rest every so often. Sometimes he’d look outside the passenger door and wonder what would happen if he just unlocked it and waited. Would someone come and smoke with him in silence? Or would they talk for ages about the rain and how it ruined their favorite sweater? Other times, he’d imagine his best friend next to him, joking about the days of their childhood and how he had almost broken his ankle while in basic training. The time they both trespassed into an abandoned mobile home in their home town; another moment when they lit a firework next to a drunk man on the street and woke him, startling him into the street and how they laughed about it for hours. There was also the time they had successfully acquired pneumonia at their favorite theme park; despite the rain, they jumped on all their favorite fast rides and got home to angry mothers about their fever.
After a little while, reminiscing of all the jokes and bantering, he imagined his cousin, talking about all of the aftermarket parts he had placed into his car. High flow intakes, straight piped exhaust; Teflon fenders and spoiler; a muffler the size of a small dog; a brand new, modular and removal steering wheel. Then he’d go on for years about his dreams of becoming a racing pilot; in charge of every last piece of the car, from the cam strengths and suspension tuning, to the spark size and fuel mix in the engine. He laughed out loud when he remembered an incident that happened when fixing the car in the earlier days of his project; an exploding piece of equipment after what was hours of debate whether or not it was fixed correctly proved his cousin wrong.
Thunder roared from the distance and shook the car a bit, snapping him back and forcing him to look outside again. The rain had picked up, and somehow, in the last four minutes of imagining such things, the sky got rather dark, despite it still being the middle of the afternoon. He wondered how long it’d take to get from the car into the coffee shop and started looking in the back seat for an umbrella. There was one back there, probably in the seat, but he couldn’t seem to find it. Defeated, he grabbed his backpack and coat, attempting to create a makeshift cover to not get soaked.
Should’ve just gone when it wasn’t so hard, he thought as he opened the door; water started to hit the electronics near the handle and he was quick to get up and place the cover with the coat over to avoid getting it even more wet. After closing the door, he awkwardly held the coat with his backpack hanging on his arm, racing towards the shelter of the elevator, attempting to avoid slipping on the wet floor; shoes that did that job quite well, but still careful and hesitant with each step.
Finally reaching the safety of the elevator, he adjusted himself, placing his backpack on properly, habitually hitting the “lock” button on his keychain for his car several times and placing his coat over the side his pack hung from in a much more comfortable manner. He looked at the giant banner beside him, inviting him over to a nearby restaurant for drinks during happy hour; hours he always worked at anyhow. He wondered whether or not he asked for the schedule to avoid becoming the socialite he was before or because he truly enjoyed the isolation; isolation he dreaded; isolation he craved.
The doors opened and as he walked out of the portable room with a strut, the doors close behind him. He looked back to the mirror the double doors provided and adjusted his look; his collar on his shirt popped out again, the coat was fashionably placed on his side and his backpack hung lower than it should, running his fingers through his hair and doing his absolute to look good by his standard; he began his strut across the street towards the coffee shop, pretending the rain didn’t bother him, letting the water come down his face. After a few fellow pedestrians got past him and he let out his warm smile, he removed his glasses with using his free hand and wiped his face with his arm, resetting his image once more before the next crowd saw him. An outdoor mall was a terrible place to visit when it rained, yet, the crowds were here, rushing to their next destination for shelter from the rain. The crowds were fewer in number outside, but as soon as he reached around the corner to go into the shop, he expected a large amount of people at his store as most people crammed into the closest refuge from the falling sky. Instead, he saw emptiness and he dreaded his thoughts that came with a quiet night.
As he entered, only a single person was sitting at a table against a corner, another waiting for their drink. The barista was focusing carefully with the pitcher in their hand and another person came out from behind the door near the back. As she came out, she was about to greet him loudly but stopped and simply smiled at him; he smiled back and held back from blushing. He went to a nearby table and set down his coat; bag; keys; wallet; phone. He was finally home, ready to start the day, but first, he needed to type a few pages of his newest idea for a story that had been in his head for months now.
When he finally finished setting up his computer near an outlet, he heard his name called for a drink he never ordered. He got up and headed towards the barista, jabbing at him with a few jokes and they bantered for a minute as he prepared his drink to consume at his table, glancing over at the woman behind the counter every so often, smiling when he caught her eye; admiring her when he didn’t and somber with the realization of things that will never be. Finally sitting down, he relaxed a little and let his mind clear, listening for something to focus on; he heard only rain. After a few moments, he realized that his new story wasn’t a story, but a revelation of who he was. He started to type:
The light rain drummed against the windshield; not much harder than dust falling from the wind…