Puddles. They form around us slowly with little to no regard to them. After all we are too focused on their initial form pelting us from above while at our feet they swarm together. Coalesce.
“I don’t understand why you have to leave so often.” Her umbrella is a burst of sunshine on an otherwise rainy Tuesday morning. She drapes it over her shoulder so that it fans around her slick hair like a halo. As stressed as I am, and as upset as she is, I cannot help but marvel at her.
“I explained it to you already Aly.” I say. Rather, I plead. Cold droplets sink into my skull like ice.
“The boss needs me is not a suitable excuse Jer.”
“Yeah I know but…”
“But nothing.” She tucks black strands behind her ear. For a moment the spider tattoo flashes on her dark skin then it’s gone.
“I promise I’ll make it up to you.”
She sighs. Both hands clutch the handle of the umbrella and her body twists at an angle. It’s her ‘I’m thinking’ posture. It’s her ‘I haven’t decided’ posture. It’s one she never has on the field. Not that she knows I know.
“Emiliano’s. Seven PM sharp. Or we’re done.” She says. I smile. Her lips twitch but she holds it in.
“Emiliano’s it is. I’m really sorry babe.”
Her lips pout but the dark eyes are smiling. With a whirl she’s slipped through the droplets and for a moment only a shape in the suspended raindrops is evidence of her existence. Then they crash to the floor and become part of the growing puddle.
The agency is a maze of business suits, college frat boys in plaid shirts and short shorts, and the sloppy rag-tag team of programmers donning comfort-style attire. One of the Slops is shuffling beside me with his rooted iPhone running an Android OS.
“Alyssa is gonna get you killed Jer.”
“If she doesn’t kill me first.”
“She could. She’s an…” the Slop leans his head towards me, “An Aranea.”
“Tell the whole world why don’t you.”
“Aw man the whole agency knows. You know they know. Don’t understand the secret.”
I turn to the Slop. He’s blonde hair is cut like one of those famous boy bands from the 90’s but his semi-beard ages him to guitar playing bard. Like that guy from Passenger.
“It’s not so much a secret as a taboo-subject. Like how we all suspect the fries of a particular fast-food franchise but never mention it.” Slop from Passenger nods his head sagely.
“I hear she’s on your recon list. That’s some taboo betrayal right there.”
For a moment there’s a surge of cold that hits my chest. And then it’s gone.
“Her ability is unique.” And so is her face I muse, “If we can pass that on to our future kids, it won’t matter that she’s Aranea. Because family always wins.”
“Just gotta watch the TV to know that.”
It’s 6 PM when I arrive at Emiliano’s. A velvet rope separate the chumps from the high-end chumps. For tonight, I’m a high-paying chump. The rain has abated but fine sheets of it plonk down gently. Caressing the quiet lamp-lit streets and passing pedestrians.
“Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and you’re just a reflection of him?”
Alyssa is beside me as though she’s always been there. Only the dryness of her trench coat gives it away. Her head is cast down to a reflection of our murky silhouettes on the street. There is no shape to the puddle.
“Then we’re both reflections with that kind of logic.” I slide up next to her. The umbrella hangs at her side unopened. She doesn’t need it.
“That’s so like you.” She says softly, “Missing the depth. Quick to try sussing out the logic.”
“Sometimes I wish I were the reflection, you know.” I realise then she hasn’t looked at me. I step to her and she’s suddenly facing the opposite direction. “Reflections never have to feel.”
When she turns to me, her eyes are puddles. They do not seep. Or flood. They merely… coalesce.
“Tell the agency I said hi.”
And then she was gone. Her silhouette shaped the air for a moment. Even her tears. Then they washed my feet in a cold splash, forming puddles.
Happy Friday all! Hope you enjoyed my story. Good luck on your writing fellow authors and hope you have a great weekend!