(Seems to be a public image – found at the above website as well as other locations)
Why couldn’t the rain have waited just a few more hours to break the drought? Alison thought as she stood in the law office foyer where she worked as a receptionist. She pushed up her umbrella before joining the throng outside on the sidewalk. She elbowed her way into the moving mass.
Unlike most, she did not have a short walk to one of center city’s numerous parking garages. Her massive school debt made owning a car a distant dream. Alison reminded herself, as her left sneaker was soaked in a deep puddle, the walk saved on gym fees. Exercise was good for her.
She huddled under her portable shelter, bringing the umbrella in tight, so its ribs touched her head, and scurried with the rest of the rat race from work to home. Alison tried not to think about the mountain waiting at home from her second job in medical transcription. At least between her two jobs, she managed to pay off the credit card debt from college last month.
If she could keep from punching Mr. Jewels, Esquire, for another six months, and kept dumping everything onto the loans, she would be debt free. She could spend a few more nights in sleeping bag in her little rented room. Ten years from the beginning of school to the end of debt. Show her parents for kicking her out.
Alison turned through the park. Normally more crowded than the sidewalk, the rain drove the bicyclists and basketball enthusiasts home for the day.
She focused her eyes on the concrete walk and picked up speed.
Mr. Jewels really needed to be knocked on his ass. She couldn’t believe he ripped up the contract he had her prepare in front of the client. All because of a clause he had told her to add. She thought it didn’t look right and had even braved his ire to double-check the wording with him. … But no, HE couldn’t look foolish in front of his client, so he screamed .. screamed! … at her for the mistake.
If she wanted screaming, she would go home. The only difference was here she was being paid to listen to his rants. The other lawyers of the partnership were so desperate to have someone act as his secretary, they paid her a bonus for the work she did over and above being the general receptionist.
Still no one should be treated like that. Churned her stomach.
She really should consider having her résumé hit the pavement.
No, no … just six more months, then she could start saving for her master’s degree. Must stay focused.
The sidewalk ended. The rest of the park was grass until she hopped the low brick wall near the project where she rented a room. Alison removed her canvas sneakers and placed them in a plastic bag. They might dry before tomorrow, but not if they go through the puddles covering the park lawn.
She tucked the bag into her carryall next to her office shoes and started crossing the grass.
She dodged the puddles as best she could, trying to stay upright in the slippery grass. The wind picked up and tugged at her protection. She firmly kept the umbrella close. A losing battle to stay dry, but she was getting good at fighting losing battles. Juggling her now thicker and heavier carryall made the umbrella harder to manage in the growing wind.
A gust blew the umbrella away. “Perfect”, she muttered.
She dropped her bag chasing the umbrella. The weather protector stopped in the pine needles between trees. Rushing to catch it while it was stopped, Alison slipped and fell.
Water slashed everywhere. She pushed up and stood. Her business suit was sopping.
Walking more carefully, watching for pine cones, Alison bent over to grab the umbrella handle. Her underwear crept up uncomfortably. The perfect end to a perfect day.
She returned to her carryall, keeping the ineffectual umbrella above her in sheer obstinateness. Water inside the umbrella dripped onto her wet face. Again she thought, the perfect end to the perfect day. She shouldered her heavy bag.
A flower bed was in the way of her beeline home. She looked for harder dirt between the flowers that wouldn’t leave evidence of her steps.
For a second, her eyes focused on the beautiful purple blooms lining the bed. She didn’t know the name of the flower.
… The perfect day.
Maybe it is, if I let it be.
Beside the flowers, she dropped the umbrella to the side and leaned back. The rain stroked her upturned face. Water trickled down her body and for the first time since her parents and her started nightly screaming matches all those long, angry years before she left … she didn’t think.
Alison let the heavens wash her and wash over her. She breathed in the ozone laden air and held it deep in her lungs. A hidden part of her unfurled.
Tears she didn’t know she had in her flowed out. Salt water at the corner of her eyes diluted in the fresh rain drops.
She started whirling and laughing, barefoot with the rain falling down.
(words 863 – originally appearing at Sunday Fun on Breathless Press 4/16/2013 and on blog 4/16/2013; republished 3/13/2016)