I'm running and running and running and the rain is falling faster and harder every second. I can't see anything but I understand everything. And this understanding makes me run faster, faster than I've ever run before in my life. The sidewalk is flooded beneath my feet and I try to jump over a deep puddle. I don't make it and I'm in the water up to my ankles. But I don't care. I don't feel the water. To me, there is nothing. All I see is my destination and all I feel is the dread and all I hear is my heart pounding in my ears. I run faster, still. The rain comes down harder. The wind blows, it tries to blow me over. It doesn't understand that I have to make it. I have to make it. If only the rain and wind would understand. But they don't. They push and push at me. But I won't let it stand in my way. Nothing will stand in my way. The rain will fall. The rain will fall, fall, fall and I will still be running and pushing against it and I will win. I must win. If I don't win, it is all over. And this is between me and the rain. Me, the rain, and the sidewalk.

And I am winning.

She is there when I get there. She is always there, something I have never mastered or understood. She's sitting outside on her front porch on the swing, watching the rain. She watches it as though it is a particularly interesting piece of art. She does not understand the war and she does not understand the race. She sees only me and the rain, she does not see the battle.

When I stumble onto her porch, she jumps up and cries my name. But I do not stop to acknowledge hers. I grab her hand and pull her down her front steps and into the rain. And now she has entered the race and now she understands. We run. We run the way I have just come and I am fading, though just a little. I look up and I cannot see what is in front of me and so I look back to my feet pounding against the pavement. The water is everywhere. I try not to let it in but it is so hard and I let my focus stray just a little. A little is enough. The rain seizes the opportunity. I slip. I fly off the sidewalk and into the street. And then it all crashes down. The water is real, the wind is real, the street is real. I am real. I am really, really real and I can no longer see my destination.

I knew, at that moment, that it was all over. I had lost.

Have you ever done something so terrible that sorry isn't enough?

I lost. I lost the race against the rain. I killed my best friend.

It had been raining for the past two weeks straight and it was showing no signs of letting up. I was worried about my things I had left in the forest, and so I begged and convinced my best friend to accompany me on that day. At first, the rain was light. It had always been like that in the mornings. But that all changed sooner than we would have ever expected.

The forest down the street from my house was our secret. The trees grew so close together that it was amazing a tiny stream could make it between them. But it did. There was the tiniest flow of water that wound its way through the forest and emptied out in the sewage system on the other side. This was the place where my best friend and I built a fort.

It seems a bit childish, building a fort. But you have to understand, this was the most magnificent fort ever constructed in these parts. It took us an entire summer to finish, with no help from anyoneWe were so careful, not a soul knew about it except us. Of course, our parents knew we went to the woods, but they didn't know about our secret castle we had hidden away.

The fort was three stories high, the first story being the ground. The ceiling of the first story was the floor of the second and so on. The second story floor was nailed to two branches that grew out from the tree at an angle so it looked almost like a triangle. The floor above that circled around the entire tree trunk, stretching across seven branches. There was a hole near the trunk in the second floor ceiling and we had nailed pieces of wood for a rough ladder. Then, we made a nice railing around the top floor. We both looked at this fort as a second home. We kept clothes there, food, games, books—everything. It was our secret world and we treasured its existence above everything else. From the top floor, we had a view of the entire town through the trees. We would've made a swimming hole in the stream, but it wasn't big enough.

We never knew it would grow as large as it had on that day.

As soon as the rain started, my best friend's first reaction was let's get out of here. But, like a fool, I argued my way into having us both stay there and wait the rain out. And the rain got worse, and heavier, and it just kept raining, and raining, and raining. It would not stop, and so I gave in. We made our way to the ground and the rain hit us like an ocean wave. It seemed the trees were doing nothing to shelter us, despite how closely they grew together. We ran along the familiar path towards the main street, but the rain complicated everything and we met the stream way earlier than usual. Or so it seemed.

The truth was, the stream had swollen four times its original size. It usually trickled along a trench and now the entire trench was filled and overflowing with water. The sound was deafening. The rushing, roaring waters were enough to cross the idea of wading across out of our minds.

And then we did the stupidest thing we've ever done.

We could've gone up and down the stream, looking for an easier place, but we didn't. We were stupid, stupid, stupid and we were cold and that is never a good combination. And so we tried to jump. I went first, of course. I always made the decisions and did everything first. I jumped and cleared the river by inches. But there was a problem. When I had jumped, I had loosened all the dirt on the side of the trench. Maybe, just maybe if I had gone second, my best friend would still be alive. I have longer legs and I might've been able to clear it. My best friend was short and squat, I should've known he couldn't clear that stupid trench. But I yelled at him. I yelled at him. I said Go! Just jump! You can do it! You can clear it! and I knew he couldn't but I yelled it anyways. And he did it. He tried to jump and he missed and he fell into the water.

And I couldn't pull him out.

It wasn't until that moment right there, that I realized how truly weak I was. I was so stupid. So, so stupid. And selfish. I knew if I lost him I would never be able to live with myself. Don't let go. Don't…oh God, please don't let go. I clutched onto his hand and it was right then that I knew, I knew that I wasn't going to be able to pull him out. There was no way. I just couldn't. I was so weak—I was so weak, I couldn't save my best friend. But I did not give up. I would not give up! I couldn't do it, I realized that, but I knew someone who could help and who was close. He'll be fine I told myself. I'll only take a few minutes. Only a few minutes…

I left him there, hanging onto the side of the trench. I yelled at him before I left and I saw the pure fear in his eyes when I said I was going to leave. He didn't hear the part about leaving to get help, all he heard was I'm leaving. And the very look on his face haunts me to the day. He was so scared and


so helpless and I left him. I left him. That look on his face was the look of someone who is feeling fear and terror they have never felt before in their lives. And I will never forget that look.

The look on my best friend's face before he died.

And so I ran. I ran and I ran and I ran against the rain and I pushed and I was going to win! I was going to win! I made it to her house! I got her! I wanted to scream and shout to my best friend I got her! I got her, it will be okay! I didn't let you down! I didn't! And it was supposed to end right there. I was supposed to get her and then it would be okay. It was supposed to be okay.

But it wasn't. It would never be okay. It will never be okay. We didn't make it in time. I lost the race against the rain. I lost the battle and I lost the war. I lost my best friend. The best friend I left clutching onto the side of a muddy trench in the midst of a whirl of raging water that tore at his clothes and was going to fight for him. That water was fighting me for him! The water was always fighting me and I lost again. I could not win against the water! That was the painful reality. I could. not. win. It was beyond my range of possibility. The water would always win. The water would never be overcome. But, I don't look at it as though the water killed my best friend. I killed my best friend. I helped the water. I was fighting so hard against the water that I handed my best friend over to it.

Have you ever done something so terrible that sorry isn't enough?

I have.