The rain is calling. Stop hiding.
I’m sitting at my work table, reading the Saturday papers online while trying to psych myself up to work. My eyes keep drifting away from the screen to the raindrops landing sharply on the pane, like a volley of thin arrows. To the dove-grey sky. Pale but determined. My ears are teased by the creaks and groans of the French window frames in the wind. By the patter on the roof. Weather for staying indoors, weather people call filthy. But weather that strikes me as true to its intentions and so what if it’s May. The rain is calling.
I put on my wellies and my jacket quickly, so the speed of my gestures can drown out the hesitation in my head. “I’m going for a walk,” I tell H., avoiding his eyes in case I see something in them that may weaken my intention. I glance at the fruit bowl on the dining table. “We’re out of bananas,” I say and immediately wonder why I need a purpose for going out beyond the simple purpose of going out.
I wish I could just wear my tweed cap to keep the rain out of my eyes and let the rest of my face get wet, only there’s the issue of the mask, these days, the mask that must stay dry, so I pick up my large, orange umbrella.
I walk up the main road, keen to turn off into a side street to get away from the loud sizzle of cars driving in the rain. A sound that’s always made me anxious. I venture into a narrow, residential street and the traffic noise suddenly fades, even though it’s only a few metres behind me. I can hear the rain calling again and I slow down to listen. The trees on both sides of the street form a kind of gallery, I mentally close off reality and imagine that there aren’t expensive houses behind the row of trees but more trees, and more. That there’s a vast expanse of forest. I breathe in the cold, damp air, the scent of wet wood, of raindrops filled with spring blossoms and linden flowers, the rich, moist soil.
I feel elated. As so often happens when I walk on my own, words and pieces of sentences start rushing into my head. I try and hold onto them, store them in my memory so I can write them down when I get home. I treasure these odds and ends. I walk past a holly bush. The dark, glossy leaves are bejewelled with a few blood red berries. I pick up a couple of soaked, muddy cones fallen on the pavement from pines that reach high into the sky. I stop to look at the bubbles and ever-expanding circles in a puddle. My cord trousers are wet at the knees and the rain is sliding down my ankle-length wellies, the chill prodding at my skin under my socks. I listen to the drops drumming on my umbrella. The rain is calling.
I want to write all this down as soon as I get home. The colours, the sounds, the scents and above all this feeling of freedom, of being myself.
I haven’t written anything in a long time. The ink is caked in the feed of my fountain pen. When I do write, what I produce feels inconsequential, lightweight. Fluff. A sentence flashes through my mind that suddenly lifts my spirits. I wish I had a notepad with me to jot it down.
I put on my mask and pop into the supermarket to buy bananas. The artificial lights bouncing off the chrome fittings are hard on my eyes, the nondescript sound of shoppers booms in my ears and there’s that metallic supermarket smell. I grab the bananas – there’s only one bunch left, anyway – swipe my card and dash out into the street again, into the welcoming greyness of possibilities. As I stroll back home, I recall that there was a sentence, something that filled my heart with hope. What was it? I was going to write it down. I thought of it just before I went into the supermarket. I search the corners of my brain. I can’t find it. Oh, no, I can’t remember it. My heart sinks and the grey sky suddenly seems blank. I stop in my tracks. Please, give it back to me. Please.
My writing feels lightweight. Fluff… Yes, but the inside of birds’ wings are also made of fluff, so they can be weightless enough to fly.
I hear the rain’s peremptory call. Step forward.
The rain is calling me.