"Why did you take me here?" We were sitting on a park bench over a cobblestone walkway. His arm rested on the bench behind me as we looked out at the ending stages of an autumn sunset. I rolled a loose stone under the sole of my boot. In front of us was a life-size bronze statue of a boy holding the world at his fingertips. The globe was so delicately attached I worried that a strong wind would cause it to break off and shatter. Through the reservoir, light from a park lamp was reflecting onto the boy’s face. I searched his eyes to see if he was also concerned for the world, but I did not find any answers there.
The day had been dark. Leaves that seemed so brightly colored yesterday were covered in dirt and breaking at their seams with every footstep. With winter’s impending fate, I was trying to hold onto longer days and painless weather. I shifted closer to him, trying to ward off the cold, to hinder what was coming, unavoidably.
"I come here alone a lot. I just wanted to share it with you."
I reached for his hand draped on the back of the bench and closed my eyes as I drank in the moment. I wanted to share everything with him. "Look over there," he pointed to an assembly of dark clouds in the distance. “You can see the rain out there.” I could not see the rain; I still nodded. "There’s a storm coming. Let’s wait for it." His hand was warm and his voice was as calm as the reservoir before us. So we stayed.
There was a couple on another bench, a man and a woman near the end of their lives. I imagined it was not their first time waiting for a storm together. They sat side by side, looking straight ahead. His pinky intertwined with hers. They were surrounded by serenity and their silence screamed of loyalty, of love that could only come after a lifetime of watching storms roll in and out together. The old man turned to look at us and caught my eye. Would we be like them? Did we remind him of their youth together? We smiled at each other.
"You've made this old man's day," he laughed. Maybe, I thought, but this woman has made his life. So we sat, and we waited.
We laughed when we felt the first drops. It had taken awhile and we were excited it was starting. For a few moments we sat there with our palms up gathering the drops, watching others race out of the park. He even let me wipe a rain drop off his eyelashes before he leapt off the bench. “Come on, let’s go.” He started running backwards, motioning me to follow. I did. We had four long blocks before the shelter of his cheap apartment. As we ran, I turned and looked back at the couple on the bench. The woman had not moved at all, but the man had taken off his jacket to cover her. Through blurred vision, I saw him lean close to kiss her on the cheek.
He ran ahead of me, laughing between the raindrops, as they poured harder and harder with each block. The water soaked through our clothes, matted our hair to our faces. “Wait for me,” Black makeup was running down my cheeks and stinging my eyes. “Wait.” Thunder howled, demanding our attention; he did not hear me.
He stretched his arms out to the sky, fingers wide open; he ran.
He did not have a care in world; he ran.
He did not cover me with his jacket; he ran.
He just kept running.
It is winter now, years from that day in the rain. I find myself back in the park again. The bronze boy is frigid and ready to trade the world for a pair of mittens and a hot cup of soup. With no warm hand to hold, the bench is freezing. I stretch out both my arms and drape them across the bench’s back, embracing the winter. I let my breath out slowly, deliberately, watching as it drifts towards the world at my fingertips. I let the sole of my boot roll over a loose stone.
I have seen a lot of storms since him.
I have seen him in a lot of storms since then.