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Beneath The Storm


It all started when she looked over her shoulder. She saw him walking slowly, idly as if tracing her footsteps. He must have been watching her walk, her hips move and her hair sway, because when she turned to look back, he quickly looked away. He made a very small gesture with his lips, almost puckering them as he looked away, and he focused his eyes on the building to his left. Because she was walking on a crowded sidewalk, Milainie, turned her attention back to where she was going. Her stomach tensed up. Knowing that this man was watching her and perhaps following her made her quicken her step. Having seen him many evenings down the same sidewalk, she knew the way he walked, the way he weaved in and out of the crowd, and she knew that he knew that she enjoyed looking at him. With a quick sigh she decided to look back. When she saw he was no longer there, a quick and shallow sadness filled her. Milainie had so expected that he still be there walking behind her that she stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, looking for him amongst the passing faces. People bumped into her and gave her grim stares, but she paid no mind to them. For a few moments she stood there, frozen and disappointed. The only thing that alleviated her longing was the certainty that she would see him again tomorrow. When she finally turned away and began to walk home it began to rain. Fat heavy gray clouds had gathered above the busy city and lightning scattered across the darkened sky. Milainie did not have her umbrella and her clothes began to absorb the water hungrily. The humidity of the summer's day had demanded that she wear her white cotton buttoned shirt. Her floral skirt flailed with the wind of the storm that seemed eager to completely lift it and expose the entirety of her legs and bum. But she rushed down the street, grasping at her flailing skirt, keeping herself modest, and she reached the cover of a store's awning. There were other persons standing beside her, all mumbling about the suddenness of the storm and how unprepared they all were. A sudden resounding roar of thunder hushed the bystanders. She decided that she was going to make the walk home beneath the storm. Waiting for it to finish seemed like a poor idea, especially since the streets were starting to get flooded and the buses were overcrowded. The storm was only getting worst, the winds were picking up and the lightning even more constant and violent.

She stepped out from under the awning and rushed down the sidewalk. She only had about ten blocks to go. Under the constant falling of heavy water drops, Milainie's clothes got heavier. Her white cotton shirt, which had been so comfortable earlier, was now troublesome in so many different ways. It clung to her stomach and breasts and the sleeves stuck to her arms. Her skirt no longer flailed with the wind because it was too heavy with water. She began to notice the eyes of strangers looking at her intently. She realized that her bra, her aqua colored bra was clearly visible through her shirt. She quickened her pace. Then she reached Broadway.

There the multitude of cars were beeping and honking, all trying to traverse the road that had become a stream. When finally the lights turned green for her to cross she ran to the other corner. And she continued to run and run. Her heart beat faster and faster, the rain hit against her body harder and harder, until suddenly lightning struck a tree on the other side of the street. No one was beneath the tree as it split and smoking branches fell to the paved street. It had been the only tree on the street, the only piece of green in a world of solid grey. And she stopped suddenly to watch it fall.

When her heart had finally returned to its normal pace she began to walk again. As she neared the corner of the street she slowed down, seeing that the water had gathered around the edges of the sidewalk. A few pedestrians gathered on the corner, waiting for a cab to pass so that they may cross, and then they did so, leaving behind a man. He waited at the corner, at the edge of the sidewalk, the toes of his sneakers hovering above the streaming rainwater. She looked at him disinterestedly as she neared. She was two feet away when a speeding car rushed down the street. All that could be seen was the water rising from the ground swallowing the man as the car went past.

Lightning and thunder mingled above in the skies and for a moment after there was silence and stillness. It was as if even the water drops had stopped falling. For that moment filled with silence, the man was no longer visible. It was not until the water had finally completely soaked him, washed him, and dripped down his body, that he became visible again. She walked up beside him, stifling a laugh as she watched him stand there with his palms upturned, checking himself in disbelief.

Finally she could not contain her laughter any longer and she just laughed at him. He quickly looked over at Milainie with sharp eyes that immediately silenced her. She covered her lips and only looked back at him with her eyes wide. She looked into his eyes, familiar and a dark soft brown, and at his familiar and gentle face. She kept looking at him, taking in his entire appearance, feeling her heart beat and the water teasingly trickle down her skin. A large cold wave of water nearly toppled her as an SUV rushed past both of them. She heard a gentle laugh and looked over her shoulder. He was laughing. Then the light turned green and they both crossed the street. They walked, side by side, shoulders touching every now and then, beneath the storm.