The Rain Child

The house is heavy with grief.
Twisting an escaping strand of my straightened hair in my finger, I bite my lower lip to stop myself from getting emotional.
Outside, as I hear thunder, a sudden smile of secrecy escapes my pursed lips.

Abandoning my family in time of their need, I take one step back, listening to the sound of my bangles as they gently clink against one another.
I take another and then turning around, I run out of the main door.
My long, curly hair is brushing softly against my back as I break into a sprint, my lips slightly apart with the struggle of breathing. Hoisting my ankle length skirt up, I continue running till I reach the far end of my back yard.
Around me, mango trees are swaying with the wind, waving to the lightning in the sky.
I stand still, closing my eyes, my head turned towards the clouds.
My fingers have let my Tulip red skirt fall beautifully over my legs as my arms slowly start moving upwards, till they’re outstretched beside me.
A warning thunder resounds in the sky, nature’s call, and as if on cue, a drop of rain falls on my forehead. Within seconds, another plops on my nose till eventually, the drops cover my face.
I smile; loving every minute of the beauty with my eyes closed and then, I begin spinning. I don’t know how I look but if my dad were standing next to me right now, he would have said that I looked like a rose amidst the lushness of nature.

My father is my most favourite person in the entire world.
He always says that when I’m happy, he’s happy.
But I haven’t told him yet that I’m only happy when he’s around. Now, I think that it may be too late.
“Darling,” He’d say on a random day, as we both sat in our lawn, lazing around and taking in the beauty of the sunshine. “Have I ever told you the story about you and the rain?”
I’d giggle and say, “Yes! But I want to hear it again.”
He’d chuckle at my excitement and start off with the story I had heard over a hundred times in my life
“You were only nine months old!” He’d tell me, with stars in his eyes, every time he repeated that story. “A miracle baby. One day, we had left the main door ajar and you heard the rain pouring outside and crawled out.” His face would turn into dismay. “It was a good fifteen minutes before your mother and I found you. God, the horror in my heart! Would you believe, just when I was ready to call the cops, I saw you from out the window, sitting near the mango trees, giggling in the rain? I never left the door open again!”
At this memory, he fondly laughed. “My rain child.”

My father doesn’t know that he’s my rain.
I mean to tell him that if it still is possible.
Outside, where I’m standing, the rain gets heavier. I feel the cold rain drops fall on my skin and mix up with the hot tears that are scalding my cheeks.
That’s the best thing about this season.
No one needs to know how much your heart is breaking.
My father always tells me that tears are a sign of weakness.

“Don’t ever let people catch you crying.”
“But dad,” I’d whine. “Everyone cries every once in a while!”
“Not you!” He’d smile then, fondly touching the tip of my nose. “You, my dearest rain child, will just run out to where you belong. By the mango trees in the rain. Your real home. There, you’ll find happiness. If you don’t, I’ll always be here for you.”
My childish mind did not think deep enough back then to realize that ‘always’ was not a word that meant ‘forever’. That immortality will always be our biggest weakness.

I look out at the mango trees. They’ve been there for longer than I can imagine.
My father once told me that he and my mother planted them together.
I love my mother a lot. But she doesn’t compare to the bond I share with my father.
I’m careful not to tell her that because I’ll hurt her feelings but she’s aware. Anyone would be.

Falling to my knees, ignoring the pain surging up my legs, I clench both my fists to compose myself. My head is bent low and my tears are falling with a speed that matches the rain.
Death is the most terrible gift of life.
It takes away from you, precious moments that you no longer have time to share. You see your future right in front of your eyes but it’s a future you can’t have because your time is up.
My sobbing gets loud and I’m scared that someone in my family inside, weeping, will hear me.
Behind me I hear footsteps but I don’t turn.
Then, a voice.
“My dearest Rain Child,” it says, a deep male voice choked with emotion and regret.
I know it’s my father.
He wipes his tears and crouches beside me.
I look at him, one last time, my eyes brimming with tears, matching his.
Like father, like daughter.
Then, he speaks.
“You’ve decided to go to the rain!” He says, breaking down. “But why didn’t you take me with you?”
I’m sitting right next to him but he can’t see me. He can’t see me sobbing hysterically now, shouting ‘I love you’ to him over and over again. I want him to know that I’m glad that car accident took me and not him. That I’m glad that I am not the one alive right now, crying for him. That it may sound selfish but I may not be able to survive without him. That mom now has him to lean on but if he had been the one to go away, then our family would collapse.
But it’s too late for all these things.
So, I just take in the sight of him.
We have one private moment together, joined in our tears and agony.
Then, getting up, I pat his head, though he can’t see me.
For one miraculous moment, he looks up, directly into my eyes.
He may not be able to see me but he has felt my touch.
Knowing that this is the most that I can have, I run towards the pouring rain till I’m finally one with it.
Then I’m gone and so is the rain.
The sun comes up, shining brightly, as if I’ve never existed.
But far away, in my house, the wails continue.

Autumn Memories

As the first yellowing leaf fell off the tree, Josephine hopped around, trying to catch it before it touched the grass. Clutching it to her heart, she remembered her dead husband’s last words fifteen years ago.

“This year, I’m the leaf that falls off the tree. Hopefully, you’ll be hanging on for years to come”

The memory brought tears to her eyes and a sudden ache in her lonely heart.
She recalled how theirs had been an arranged marriage, a marriage out of convenience.
She had hardly been eighteen back then, when her single mother passed away, leaving her in the hands of a strange man, her soon-to-be husband.

‘Darling!’Her mother had whispered, her eyes watering with the strain of having to stay awake. It was like her body was ready to collapse but her mind was refusing to stop yet. Josephine ran to her side, her heart hammering in her chest at the awareness that the moment had finally come.In her heart, she knew that she wasn’t going to have her mother around for much longer. But a small part of her, the silly part that wished for this all to be a horrendous nightmare, hoped otherwise.
“Promise me you’ll let him take care of you!” The dying lady said, struggling to caress her daughter’s cheek for one last time.

Josephine was wondering who her mother was referring to. But the presence far behind her answered without the need for words.
As she watched the solemn man, much older to her, lean gently against the doorframe, his head bent and his eyes fixed on the bunch of roses clasped tightly in his hand, Josephine’s heart wrung itself painfully.
But before she could turn back to her mother and try to tell her that she’d do anything but live with a man she hardly knew, the lady was gone.
That day, the vicious part of her, one that she wasn’t aware of, swore to hate the man for as long as she lived.

But it was difficult to hate a man like Roger for long.
He was what most women dreamt their fathers could be like and hoped their husbands would learn from. With his eternal kindness and extremely cautious flirtations, he had swept her off her feet gradually.

“I think you should smile, at least for today.”
His deep, male voice prickled the tiny hairs at the nape of her neck. Instantly, she was aware of her clumsily bunched up hair at the top of her head.
Turning, she looked at him, puzzled.
“It’s… our anniversary!” He said, clearing his throat.
Her eyes widened in horror, her face expressing how terrible she felt for forgetting a detail as major as that.
“It’s ok,” He hurriedly spoke, as if reading her embarrassment. “I don’t mind.”
She hung her head in shame, not knowing how to respond, wondering what was making her hate this man when he was being so very gentle with her. She wondered if love was really that difficult to develop, when it was obvious that the man in front of her could most possibly be better than anyone she would have been able to pick on her own.
“We have our whole lives left,” He said, smiling, reading her thoughts, as he gently touched her hand. “Hopefully you’ll remember the next one.”
Placing a bouquet of roses next to her on her bed, he quietly walked out, shutting the door behind him, as the room regained its silence that Josephine has grown accustomed to.

Despite her reluctance and forced hatred, Josephine had found that her young heart was melting for Roger as he determinedly continued to woo her. As the days turned into weeks and the weeks turned into months, their emotional separation was dwindling but the ache of their physical distance was making her go crazy with longing. It made her realize how much more difficult it must have been for him, having to watch the three feet difference between their rooms and wonder if their hearts would ever become one.

A shy knock on the door was the most that her trembling fingers could manage. As the door opened to Roger’s surprised face, Josephine looked away, wondering if he had been expecting somebody else.
“Is it lunch time already?” He asked, glancing at his time, aware that Josephine only ever knocked on his door to tell him his food was ready.
“May I come in?” She managed, her voice quivering.
He glanced at her face and loosened his tie.
She watched as he battled with his own mind, knowing that he was getting late for work but being unable to refuse his wife anything.
“I’ll…I’ll come back later!” She said, taking a step back.
Watching as his eyes turned into pits of shock, she hesitated.
“No!” He said, trying to control himself from shouting out the word. “Absolutely not!”
She entered his room, taking a look around it properly for the first time in two years.
Sitting on his dressing table was their wedding photo, a detail she missed even though she cleaned his room twice a week.
It was weird how people only noticed that which they wanted to see.
“Joe…?” He said, worried.
She turned to him, gulping.
“I… Open your cupboard,” She blurted out as his eyes shifted to the panicked rise and fall of her chest.
His footsteps slow, he walked over and opened the doors.
After a few seconds, he spoke.
“It’s empty.” He said, his voice flat.
She kept her head lowered the whole time, not knowing what to say.
“I…I don’t understand, Joe…”
She looked at him, her eyes coy till they met his.
As she watched the beginning of tears in Roger’s eyes, she instantly understood what had happened.
“I… Are you asking for a divorce?” He asked, his lips quivering.
Unable to say a word, she took his hand in hers and dragged him to her room.
Opening the cupboards, she turned to face him.
“I… I just thought your clothes looked better here.”
She turned and looked at the bed, as his eyes followed.
“My pillow too?” He asked, the beginning of a smile in his voice.
Her throat went dry as he walked towards her and placed his hands on her shoulders. With one finger, he lifted her chin up and kissed her forehead.
“How long I’ve waited for this…” He murmured as her eyes connected with his.
At her utterance of the three most beautiful words he had ever heard in his life, they kissed passionately and made love for the first time in their entire married life. But it surely wasn’t their last. Love had finally found them both.

However, one terrible autumn, fifteen years ago, a fatal heart attack took his life.
“Have I told you recently how much I love you?” He struggled, his voice raspy.
It reminded her instantly of her own mother many years ago and how she too had been taken away from her well ahead of time.

“Only every day!” She replied, her eyes moist and her fingers wrapped tightly around his. “And you’ll continue to do so once you recover from this,” She added, optimistically.
A short bitter laugh escaped his throat.
“You know how seasons change?” He asked, his voice coming low. “Flowers wilt, birds stop flying and trees become bare. We’re like the seasons too, Joe. This autumn has my name on it. I’m the leaf that falls off this year.” He said, his emotions evident in his voice. “And I hope to God that your turn doesn’t come for many more decades.”
As he brought her fingers to his lips and kissed them, she cried bitterly for the man who would always be the love of her life.
Her wedding ring shone brightly.

Josephine had thought that day to be the worst in her entire existence and constantly wondered how wonderful it would have been if she had loved him from the start. They’d have had two more years to make many more beautiful memories. But these thoughts were a waste of time and they represented regret that could never be taken back.

It was shocking to her that no matter how much love they shared, they had never had children. It used to upset her when she had thought about it, sitting by the window sill, waiting for Roger to get home, but then he always managed to make her feel better about herself. He had never let her feel guilty for being the reason behind their child barren lives.

Over the last fifteen years, life had become very dull for Josephine.
Every year, in autumn, she’d stand by the tree in her yard, waiting to see if the leaf that fell off the tree would be hers, waiting patiently for her turn. Because, in life, she had nothing left to wait for. But in death, she longed to be joined with her husband. That longing grew into an obsession that took over her mind and soul.
She’d sit under the tree, holding on, hanging on, but not wanting to any longer.
For fifteen long years, she spent her lonely days awaiting her chance.
The first night after Roger passed, Josephine didn’t think that she’d be able to live through the silence that reverberated through the walls and the emptiness next to her that consumed her. But eventually, the silence grew more tolerable and the empty seat next to her became a familiarity.
Every night, she still left a plate out for her husband.
But tonight, she wouldn’t need to.
With the leaf still in her hand, she knew that her time had come.
Taking a deep breath, she let it go.
Slowly, the leaf fell to the grass.
And with that, so did she.


She darted her eyes to the left, her breath heavy and her face contorted with dismay.
The room was dark and dingy, the water leaking through the walls as well as from the ceiling. She sat balled up in a corner, trying hard not to cry.
“Help…” she whispered, her throat dry.
Dried up tears stained her pale cheeks. She tried to stand without placing any weight on her damaged foot but kept falling backwards. Blood soiled the floor with its terrifying red, reminding her of the time her parents committed suicide right in front of her eyes. Suddenly, she had an idea. Unwinding her scarf from around her head, she tied it to her foot and bit her tongue from screaming out in pain when the cloth put pressure on the open wound.
Breathing deeply, she gritted her teeth and tried to stand one last time. Leaning against the wall, she let her feet settle. Where was she? Why had he left her here?

Limping across the tiny room, she tried the door, knowing fully that it wouldn’t open. When she pulled with all her might, the handle came off in her hands and she fell back, leaving all her struggle to go in vain. Groaning in pain, clutching her leg tightly from the throbbing pain, she laid, her hair grubby from all the muck. As she turned her head, she saw something shining in the other corner of the room. Gathering all her energy, she dragged herself across the floor, knowing that it would be pointless to try and stand now.
“Come on, come on,” she told herself. “You can do this.”

It took a painstakingly long time, her body betraying her, the blood leaving stains all over the floor as she continued to drag herself with her hands. Her effort seemed to pay off, because the shining thing in the corner was actually her own battered phone. Flashes of the strange man throwing it across the room and slapping her unconscious crossed her mind.

Picking it up with trembling fingers, she dialled the first number on the list. The display was broken, but the keys still worked. As the phone rang, she lay on the floor, exhausted. There was a cackling noise and then she heard a voice.

“Hello?” the male on the other end said. “Hello? Thank God you called. I was about to call the police. Where have you been? Come back home, darling. Please.”

Her eyes went wide. It was him.

“Doll,” the voice continued. “We are getting married in a week. Do you have to run away now? I said I was sorry. Can we please not fight anymore? Please?”

She closed her eyes, trying to shake the ego away.

“Help,” she croaked. “Help, please…”

“Hello? Lis? Are you alright? What’s wrong? Where are you? Hello?”


“Lis, where are you? Just tell me where you are. I will be right there.”

She saw no other option.

“Shed,” she said painfully. “Shed… Outskirts… Street 23…”

The line went dead. She breathed in again and finally let herself cry. It was too much effort to even sit up. Her stomach was empty, there was no food in sight and that monster just left her to die.

As the phone buzzed with another call, she closed her eyes and slipped off into oblivion.

When she opened her eyes, she was in a room. She felt a bit relaxed and realised she was on a bed. She touched her face and found that there was something like a bandage across her forehead. Looking down, she saw that her whole foot up to her ankle was completely wrapped in cloth. It felt numb.

“She’s awake,” she heard someone shout. “Doctor! Nurse! Anyone!”

She turned her head and saw her fiancé staring down at her with love in his eyes. How could he pretend so beautifully?

“I thought you were gone,” he said, holding her hand. “I love you, Lis…”

She tried a smile.

The doors burst open, but the doctor did not walk in. Two officers did.

“Good afternoon, ma’am. My name is Ben and this is Joe. We need to be able to question you now. Are you up for it?”

“No,” her fiancé said. “Can’t you see she is unwell?”

“I’m fine,” she insisted. “I am ready to answer your questions.”

Her voice was back, she found out in a pleasant surprise and smiled inwardly to herself.

“Alright,” one of the officers said, “Sir, you will have to leave the room!”

Her fiancé chuckled.

“We have no secrets, right, Lis?” he said, shrugging.

“But they have to follow protocol,” she told him.

With a heavy heart, he walked away.

“Can you please tell us everything you remember?” one of the officers asked as the other switched the tape recorder on.

“I…It was a normal day, the sun was shining and everything was beautiful. I was on my way to work when… this part is fuzzy in my mind. There was a man… he hit me… and then he took me somewhere… I was sitting in his car… Next to him… The next thing I knew, I was in a shed, or was it a barn? I don’t know. I tried calling the cops on my phone, but he found out and he slapped me and threw the phone away…”

She touched the wound at the edges of her lip. It was still raw.

“Alright, ma’am. You need to explain to me how it happened… I need the details”

“We found a bullet in your left foot…” the other officer blurted out.

“No,” she shook her head. “It was my right foot and… he did that to me. He shot me because I refused to get into the car…”

“Where were you when this happened?”

She closed her eyes.

“In some garden of some sort… I can’t remember very clearly, but there was grass… On my way to work…”

“And then he got you into his car… Can you explain what this vehicle looked like?”

“It was black. A sedan, maybe? I don’t know but one side mirror was broken. I remember that. A mirror was gone. You know those two mirrors outside? The one at the passenger seat was gone. I think it fell off somewhere because he was driving really fast and…”

“What did he look like?”

“He was a little taller than I am… and he had really rough hands. His eyes… They were a deep blue and very sharp.”

“Alright ma’am. Our team is investigating the shed at the moment for any sign of some sort. We will get back to you as soon as we can. You get well soon.”

Three days later, she was called to the police station. Limping in with her crutches and her fiancé by her side, she greeted the officers with a smile.

“You found the man?” she asked. “Please tell me you found him. I can’t sleep at night…”

“Unfortunately, we couldn’t find any clues from the shed. Whoever did this to you is very clever. However, we do have criminals who commit this sort of… crime. They are on the other side of this door. If we take you in there, do you think you would be able to identify the man?”

When she gulped nervously, one of the officers stepped forward.

“Both of us will be with you and your fiancé will be coming in as well.”

She nodded as confidently as she could.

In the room, five men were standing in front of her, their faces not giving away any expression whatsoever. She scanned them all, tried to remember something from that day. But her mind was not cooperating.

“Ma’am, take your time. Just let us know if any of these men is the one.”

She stood up from her chair and backed up against the wall. Her eyes turned glassy and she began to sweat profusely.

“Lis, what’s the matter? Are you alright?”

Her fingers went up to her temples and she closed her eyes, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“Ma’am… are you remembering something? Is everything okay?”

As her fiancé stepped towards her, worry written across his face, the officers asked him to move back.

“I remember who the man was!” she said suddenly, her breath getting heavy.

“Is he in this room?”

She nodded, terrified.

“Ma’am, you don’t have to say anything. Just point at the man. They are all standing right there and they won’t harm you. We assure you that.”

With shaky fingers, she pointed.

But it was not at any of those men.

It was at her fiancé.

It took two more days to finish all the proceedings and the formalities.

“Thank God, that’s done with,” Officer Joe said. “We make a good team, Ben.”

But Ben did not respond. He was lost in thoughts.

“What’s the matter?” Joe asked. “What is it that you’re thinking about?”

They were sitting in the local cafe, sipping coffee.

“It just doesn’t feel right,” he replied.

“What do you mean? Look, everything checked out. Every single detail. We found a gun in her fiancé’s room. It had his prints on it and the bullet from her foot checked out. It came from that gun. Also, his car is a black one. Not a sedan like she said it would be, but that was a detail she was not sure about. But it did have a missing mirror and there were traces of blood all over the car, especially in the passenger seat, even though he tried to clean it. ”

“Don’t you think it is strange, though?” Ben asked. “How everything just fell into place like that? How, she suddenly remembered that it was her fiancé who tried to murder her? How her fiancé kept calling her deranged? It felt staged to me…”

“You are over-thinking this, Ben. The man pleaded not guilty and he lost. The neighbours did not have any proof of her mental instability like he claimed. There are no medical records. Hell, she grew up in an orphanage after her parents killed themselves. Give the woman a break! Besides, all the evidences point to him. Even the ‘garden’ and the ‘grass’ that the woman was referring to was actually their front lawn and there was blood there as well. You know this, Ben. How can you still be doubtful? The man had a gun without a licence for it!”

“But he says he does not even remember buying that!”

“Then how can you explain the withdrawal of the same amount on his name a few days before the incident? Look, we see these cases all the time. Men just like to take advantage of their women. This is surely just a situation of a relationship gone wrong. At least no one died.”

“What if this was not one such case?”

“You know what? Let us just drop it. The man is behind bars, the woman is free and there is no other explanation in our hands. Our only regret should be that we didn’t check him out in the first place. Besides, we have so much more work to do.”

“You are right,” Ben replied, emptying his coffee and standing up. “Let’s go. We have another case in our hands. Some child kidnapping…”

“That’s the spirit, partner!” Joe laughed, patting him on the back.

Back at their house, Lis was taking the trash out. Her foot was feeling much better now and she could even walk, albeit slowly. As she took the garbage bags outside, the ones that had been piling up since a week, she glanced at her face in the mirror by the door. It was almost healed, the scars and wounds on her face fainter than they were a couple of days ago. Her eyes sharp, she slowly smiled, not with relief but with a sense of victory.
She then replayed the events in her head from the day of the accident.

Her fiancé was fast asleep.
He obviously would be, after the sleeping pills she popped into his drink an hour ago.
Careful not to make a sound, she went into their soundproof garage where he did most of his work, and revealed the gun that she had bought on his account almost a week ago. Her fingers trembled a little, but she knew that this was the only way.

Stifling a cry, she pointed it at her foot and shot herself, yelping in pain. Then she tied it up, with the bullet still in as she slipped her bleeding foot into his shoes. Tears streaming down her cheeks, she limped back into the house, placing the gun in his hands without waking him and then, taking his limp hand in hers, she opened the drawer so his fingers would be on that as well, and put the gun inside.
The pain was excruciating and she could feel the warmth of the liquid filling up.

Getting into the passenger seat of his car, she closed the door and slipped her foot out of the soiled shoe, spilling blood all over the mats. Then she ran her nails through the dashboard and the front cabinets as well as the bottom of the seat to make it seem like a struggle. For an added effect, she knocked the side mirror off the car.

The first part of her plan was working brilliantly. This had taken such a long time for her, to be able to lay out its execution without any hint of failure. Now, the more difficult part of her revenge was left and she almost gave up as the pain shot up the leg but knew she could not. Not after she came this far.
“Don’t pass out,” she told herself. “Not yet. Don’t pass out now.”

Catching a cab, trying to look as normal as possible, her scarf tied around her face and sunglasses covering her eyes, she got herself driven to the isolated area and then paid the doubtful cab driver. But he didn’t ask any questions, just reversed his vehicle and drove away
“Thank you,” she shouted after him, smiling and just as he was gone out of sight, she burst into tears.
“Just half a kilometre more,” she told herself and dragged her foot into the shed that she knew was unoccupied for over a year.
Breaking open the lock, she got in, and through the narrowly concealed hole that she drilled a few days ago, she latched it from outside. Then, she beat herself up a bit to add a touch of violence to her carefully schemed plan and when her phone flung out of her hands with the impact, she finally passed out.

Walking outside to the dustbin, she breathed in deeply, thinking about her ex-fiancé rotting in jail.
“Serves him right,” she told herself. “I am not the one who needs psychiatric help, he is. I taught him a lesson, didn’t I?” she laughed to herself. “How dare he threaten to call a counselor on me? For my own good, he says. I showed him!”
And then her eyes turned serious.
“Never mess with a woman.”
In the garbage bin were two bags filled with trash. But also in it were the only two evidences that could ever put her scheme out into the open.
The broken mirror. The bloody shoes.
Now they were gone forever.