pressed herself against the wall, trying to maximize the limited shelter
offered by the small overhang. She had been unprepared for the sudden
downpour, and though at first she had tried to ignore it, the rain had
become increasingly heavy and she decided to take what shelter she could
and wait for a break. She was already quite wet, but she tried to ignore
the prickly feeling of her drying skin contracting beneath her clothes.
She held up one hand and examined her fingers. The prune tips were
relenting, slowly smoothing out and hardening in the air.
The rain continued. No pedestrians were in sight, and the water pooled in
recesses on the ground. She could hear it rushing through the gutters,
flowing towards hidden drains.
She rubbed her forearms, breaking down divisions between wet and dry
patches. When she looked up she spied a young woman across the square,
walking slowly through the rain and making no attempt to seek shelter. Her
hair was the first thing Abigail noticed. It was wet and ragged, looking
like the fake straw sticking out of the hat of a Hollywood scarecrow. She
had obviously reached the rain threshold, the moment where you become so
wet that there is no point trying to avoid it any further.
Abigail's gaze was diverted by the sight of two small girls in full rain
gear. They wore matching yellow raincoats and hats, complete with bright
yellow gumboots sporting black trim. They stood facing each other in the
centre of the largest, deepest puddle. Their faces were too tiny for
Abigail to judge their expressions accurately; she saw only a look of
determination, an infant concentration almost comical.
they started splashing.
With great industry the two girls assaulted the tepid water, and Abigail
was unsure whether they intended to wet themselves or each other; in any
case, both aims were fulfilled. Their game continued as Abigail watched,
considering abandoning her partial shelter to make the dash for home. She
was raising one foot, preparing to feel the first drops of rain on her
partially dry face, when she heard a cry of despair that could only come
from a mother.
A woman Abigail placed in her early thirties stomped towards the two
children, a large handbag on one arm and two tiny school bags on the
other. The weight of the luggage caused her to waddle from right to left
as she impulsively stooped to snatch a tiny arm in each of her hands, her
long fingers grasping the fugitive limbs securely.
Abigail was watching the defeated woman pack her dripping charges into her
car when she became aware that she had a fellow spectator in the woman
across the square. The woman's face appeared to display the same
expression of delight that Abigail had seen on the children. The quiet
patter of the rain was shoved aside for a moment by the sound of the car
starting, and Abigail turned to see it moving out from the curb.
A flash of movement returned her attention to the square, and she saw the
woman moving towards her. She took three quick steps and leaped with one
foot forward. While airborne, she brought the second foot into line with
the first and they landed side by side in the middle of a large puddle,
sending sharply defined waves up and onto her already soaked dark linen
Abigail remained still, ideas racing through her brain. She had a sudden
urge to join the woman in her activity, but her fear of embarrassment
prevented her from acting on it. Abigail watched her hop from puddle
to puddle, cursing herself for her lack of courage. She continued to watch
as the woman hopped further and further away, until she rounded a corner
and jumped out of sight.
Still standing under the overhanging gutter, Abigail prepared herself to
re-enter the rain. There was little point waiting for a break in the
weather. She had to begin the journey home at some time, and the rain was
unlikely to cease in the near future. She knew that she would probably
curse her timidity all afternoon, but thought to herself that another
soaking might help a little. She knew that her irritation would be eased
by the time
she reached the rain threshold.
work is copyrighted property of Jason Monios.