It’s late afternoon as the clouds roll into the city. Grey and moodie, they descend ominously upon evening commuters rushing to get home. A hurried man pauses, looks up, and a frown creases his brow. He sniffs the thick air and bleakly wonders if it’ll rain.
The wind whips through the street and the man jostles with others for space on the footpath. Tucking a leather briefcase under his arm, the man pulls his heavy coat tighter, bows his head into the wind and continues forward.
Toing and froing, people cut across him. A never ending stream of bodies, going this way and that. They weave between idling cars, step aboard buses and disappear down dank subways. All taking different paths and yet all heading in the same direction – home.
The sun is obscured as the voluminous gloom continues to spread across the sky. Darkening the streets, sucking colour from the day, the monochrome city moves towards night time.
As the light fades, other people start to notice the impending storm. Looking up, they too sniff the air and frown.
Pit. The first raindrop falls. Pat. Then another. Splat. Wet pellets begin to pour down and the rushing crowd swells as people scatter with more urgency. All trying, most failing, to escape the deluge.
Those prepared step out of doorways with an umbrella in hand. They pop open and bob gently out into the river of people. These sprouted black mushrooms move gently down the current, unperturbed by the downpour.
But the hurried man is not prepared. He holds his leather briefcase above his head for meagre protection. His frown deepens as the water begins to seep through his coat. Streams flow down from his exposed hands, along his arms until they trickle unpleasantly inside his clothes. In minutes he is drenched.
His mood turns black and he mutters under his breath. His cotton shirt sticks to his chest, constricting, as he tries to blink the water from his eyes.
Turning his face downward, he focuses on the footpath in front of him. Slick black shoes and wet trouser legs blend, ignoring him as they pass by. He pushes forward, quickening his pace to get home.
A flash colour cuts across him. Abruptly in his way, he has to divert. He jerks his head up and barks, ‘Hey! Watch it!’
Turning, the hurried man targets his anger towards the colour. Ready to unleash a torrent of words, his eyes bring the culprit into focus. He’s about to yell again when he suddenly stops. In front of him is a pair of bright yellow gumboots.
His gaze moves up to see a young woman smiling at him. Her hair is plastered to her face. Clothes completely soaked. She has goosebumps on her arms and yet she continues to smile.
Confused and still irritated, the hurried man keeps staring. The young woman laughs and holds up her hands, half apologetic, half amused.
‘I forgot my umbrella,’ she explains.
Looking down at his own soaked clothes, the hurried man lowers his briefcase. A slow smile spreads across his face and he takes a step towards her.
‘I forgot my umbrella too,’ he replies.
The young woman grins and unexpectedly spreads her arms wide. She closes her eyes and tilts her face towards the sky.
‘I guess we might as well embrace it,’ she laughs.
The hurried man hesitates but after a moment steps next to her and sets his leather briefcase down. He spreads his arms wide, closes his eyes and tilts his face towards the sky.
‘I guess we might as well,’ he replies.
As the pair stand rock-like, listening to the falling rain, the commuters around them push on. Some glance at them and raise an eyebrow. Others smirk and scurry on their way. Toing and froing, swirling this way and that, the stream of people continues to flow under the darkening sky.
In a city uselessly trying to stay dry, the two hold quiet and embrace the rain.
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