Year 1. December.
Thin, black and stark against the white background, the tiny line stands vertical, blinking in and out of sight to a steady rhythm. And there it stays, unmoving, minute after minute.
Leaning into the soft whirring of the computer from under the covers, she sits, hunched over. She’s formed a sort of teepee from her knotted limbs and the comforting weight of the blanket. Just her and the computer and this fortress, a shifting mass atop the rickety mattress placed on top of a scruffy bed frame sitting not too far from the aged floorboards, 6 levels above ground.
Her mind remains blank hour after hour, but she sits motionless, awake. Aware, but in denial of the fact that the lack of thought could very much be because she tends to be awake at 3AM. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is that it’s raining outside—but she doesn’t know that yet. She will in a moment, jostled from her daydream by the soft pitter-patter of raindrops against the glass. Then she’ll jump up to draw the curtains, give the handle a jiggle until the rust gives, and throw the window open, leaving the screen shut in case of unwelcome insects. And when the earthy scent is delivered to her by a sneaking breeze—as always, she’ll lap it up like a puppy after playtime, desperate but content, and breathe out a simple word: Petrichor.
With a pleased huff, she’ll harbor a sort of holier-than-thou pride in knowing the word, just like every other person on the internet who’d come across the ‘50 of the Most Beautiful Words in the English Language’ article, utterly oblivious to the haughty juvenility of this sense of gratification.
And she’ll breathe it all in. Over and over and over again.
But for now, she does not know that it is raining outside. For now, she stares on at the blank document under the protection of her covers.
There’s a sort of hushed tenseness in her mind, a vehement but subconscious desire for quiet, and the city obliges for once, as if saying I hear you. The roar of motorcyclists subside, the computer’s incessant droning comes to a halt, the air purifier shuts down with a satisfied click, and for a moment, rich, untainted silence soaks the room.
Only then does she hear the rapid tap-tap-tapping of her fingers against the trackpad.
A surprised pause at the movement that had gone unnoticed, then she begins to trace small circles instead, watching the cursor move in tandem.
Now, all sounds have been eliminated. Except one.
And then she notices the rain.
And the rest… Well, the rest, you know.
What you don’t know is: across the city, a boy will stir in his sleep, picking lightly at his face in his sleep, his phone left unplugged—a detail that will irritate him the rest of the day. Across the hall will be his sister, her little mind churning intently to sputter out segmented dreams of burrowing several feet under soft sawdust with the pet hamster she has enlarged in her head to the size of an adult man.
Just a few miles from that will be another boy—a boy with eyes that would be recognizable anywhere, anytime—briefly waking to check his phone for unexpected texts as he winces at the glaring light. Racked with a balance between disappointment and relief at the lack of any, he’ll nevertheless climb back into the bed, almost giddily anticipating the next day. Startled awake by the glow, his roommate will let out a flutter of a disapproving sigh that will undoubtedly go unnoticed by him as they both fade back into unconsciousness.
And there will be more boys and girls, men and women, who will stir and wake and snore and sigh, who’ll come to be of importance and fade into the backdrop at different intervals of her life (as they all do), but these two—the boy with a spattering of a combination of acne scars and freckles, and the boy with indescribable eyes, are the ones that she thinks of before she falls asleep on this particular rainy night.