The Rain Boy

The rain was already slacking off. He was wrong, she told herself. They could still play. What was a little water when they would have fun? He always made excuses. It's too late. It's too long. It's too far. It's too whatever. And now it was too wet.

He was right of course, it was wet. She looked at the field and the pools of water. The field was half submerged and their cleats would sink, no doubt. He didn't need to be there to say it; she could hear his voice, "See how muddy we would get?" He was shaking his head, "It's too wet." Of course he was right. The rain may have stopped, but the water remained.

She started the fifteen minute hike back to her dorm. Her umbrella, a bright, happy blue with yellow polka dots, hung limply at her side, contracted. Cars splashed past as if to say, "Can't you see it rained?" Yes, it had been stupid of her to hope that the game hadn't been cancelled. It had rained hard. Of course he was right, the rain may have stopped, but the water rushed past her to the drain. As she walked to her dorm her cleats became more wet from stepping in unavoidable puddles. Afraid of ruining them, she slid off her shoes and socks and stepped in the middle of a puddle in her bare feet. Enjoying the warm, secure feeling, she stretched her toes before beginning her walk again.

A car pulled up beside her; music coming from inside, indistinguishable, yet unquestionably there. She quickened her step and switched the umbrella to her right hand.

"Hey! Wait!" the boy yelled. She recognized the voice dimly, not as one would a friend's, but it was vaguely familiar. She stopped and turned as the boy cut the engine and jumped out of the door, striding over to the curb. She realized it was the boy from the team they were supposed to play. "Aren't we still on?" he asked, confused. It wasn't like them to be late or without each other for that matter.

"Can't you see it rained?" she asked. "It's still wet." It was the tone Jason used. Always, can't you see, it's raining, it's too hot, it just can't be done. But what if he was wrong?

"What? Are you afraid of a little water?" Challenge glinted in his eyes and amusement in his grin. "Come on," he turned, "I'll give you a ride. No one else came either."

The rain may have stopped, and the water remained, but soon it would wash away.

She followed him to his car, slowly getting in the passenger's side. He started the car and the music picked up where it had left off, jazz, definitely not what she had been expecting.

"Where's your barnacle?" He glanced at her before swiftly making a U-turn through a break in traffic.

"My barnacle?"

"Sure. The guy who is always with you, never leaves you alone. He even walks you to and from classes. You're quite unapproachable when you're with him, you know," he said mildly, as though stating an obvious fact.

"You mean Jason?" she was shocked. She followed him around, not the other way around. "Well, I don't really have a lot of friends. We've been dating since we were juniors in high school and when we came here I suppose we just… stuck together," she finished lamely, close to a whisper.

"Why would you go to the same college?" He didn't seem surprised just aggravated.

"Why wouldn't we? We were in love?"

"Were in love? What, fallen out of love at the tender age of 19?" he asked, smiling at her.

"I didn't say that we weren't still in love. And that was just why he did it. It wasn't something I chose. I wanted to come to school here. He doesn't like it very much. He keeps threatening to transfer and I don't know what to say. I'm sure he would go to a better school, but I like it here."

"Even though you don't have friends?"

"I didn't say I didn't have any friends, just not many…" she trailed off wondering why he was being so nosy.

"Ok then, who are your friends?"

"The people on our ultimate team are nice," her voice was slowly growing quieter.

"What are their names and favorite colors?" he challenged.

"I know all of their names, but it's not like we discuss colors. I don't know Jason's favorite color; does that mean we're not friends? I don't even have a favorite color. How is that a fair way to judge?" her voice was now growing a little frantic, grasping for meaning.

"Sure, you have a favorite color," he smirked at her while barely glancing over at her.

"Fine then, what is it?" frustrated with him, she no longer wanted to play. She just wanted to get out and go back to her dorm. Her wet feet, once warm, were now cold under the gently blowing of the air conditioning.

"Purple, dark purple. Well it's not really purple, it's more of a purple-ly-red… maroon! That's it. Your favorite color is maroon," he shot her a triumphant look at her shocked face.

"Where did you pull that out of?" incredulous and confused she was staring at him.

"You always wear maroon with that grey sweater you love so much. You also have a black purse with maroon… pattern thing and your shoes that you always wear: what are they?"

"Maroon chucks?"

"Bingo." Another victorious glance was sent her way. "Your favorite color is maroon."

"Are you stalking me?"


"How do you know that Jason walks me to and from classes, and that I have a black purse with maroon paisley and maroon chucks, not to mention what I wear." She was just a bit flattered, but mostly freaked out. How did he know that?

"We have General Psychology together… you sit two rows in front of me, usually with your feet somehow tucked under the desk," he was speaking slowly, as if to a young child. "I take it you didn't know I was in that class."

"Well no, but I don't know your name either!" She seemed quite proud of that fact, sending a smirk of her own his way, though it was not as practiced or perfected; until, "Wait, why am I in a car with some boy I don't know? Pull over now. For all I know you're some stalking rapist!"

"If I were a stalking rapist don't you think that I wouldn't be allowed to play Ultimate Frisbee on a college campus with pretty girls like yourself?" he said all of this with a very straight face, no signs of a joke anywhere, so unlike his usually easy-going demeanor.

"Ok, so you're not a stalking rapist, but still, I don't know your name."

"Well, Miss Analiese, my name is… should I tell you? Or should I make you earn it? You must find out what my favorite color is before I tell you." He smiled at her widely, genuine in her disbelief.

"Who says I'll ever see you again? What should I call you? The rain boy?" She sputtered through her amazement at his certainty of future events that seemed very improbable to her.

"The rain boy… I like it!" He grinned at her. "Well, I know I'll see you on Tuesday for Gen Psyche. Now, you could just turn around, say hello, be sociable and then we could go for a cup of coffee like two normal friends. Or, if you choose to be difficult I could say, 'Hey Analiese, how are you today?' and you could choose to be even more difficult and ignore me and never learn my name. Or you could turn around at that point and respond with a nice, 'Yo rain boy, I'm superb, how are you hanging?' Do you catch my drift?"

Her mouth was hanging open slightly from incredulity before a light, strained noise filled the car. It started out faint, restricted, tight, but expanded into a tinkling music. Her gentle laughter overpowered the louder music in his ears. His smirking countenance was replaced by a delicate smile. Not his usual grin, or even a genuine smile, but a soft, smooth, gentle upturn of his lips.

He pulled the car over to the side of the road and cut the engine. "I'll see you Tuesday," he smiled gently, making and keeping eye contact.

"Yeah, Tuesday." She smiled back. As she stepped away from the car, she glanced at her surroundings, a slight frown marring her face. How was she going to explain this to Jason? She walked, without noticing, to her building. Her mind was fuzzy on the details, when she got to her room, of how she even got there.

Tuesday arrived quickly after their Saturday encounter. As Jason was walking her to General Psycholgy she began to make her excuse, trying to make it sound less unusual that it was for her, "I'm going to meet a guy after class today, ok?" She didn't mean to phrase it as a question, but it was already out there.

"Who is it?" Jason giving her a strange look – part amusement, part disbelief – as though he didn't know what to make of her plans.

"Just a friend from class. I think we're going to go for coffee."

"You don't like coffee." He stopped and was studying her closely. "Are you lying to me?" his tone seemed joking, but behind the façade was a serious edge, a hard glint in his eyes.

"What?" She stared at him in bemusement. "No, coffee is just a sort of term one uses to avoid making detailed plans, you know? Even if we did go for coffee most coffee places make smoothies now anyway…" She trailed off at the glare on his face. "Is something wrong?"

"Why didn't you tell me earlier? When did you make these plans?"

"I didn't think it really mattered. I just didn't want to make you wait for me after class. He asked me on Saturday, after the game was cancelled; he gave me a ride back to my dorm…"

"Who is he?" Light mood gone, he was regarding her in an up most serious manner.

"Um, the captain of the team we were supposed to play," she stopped to face him, a slight, puzzled frown made its way onto her face.

"What time will this little date be finished?" he asked, his anger beginning to show.

She laughed lightly and reached out to touch his arm right above the elbow. He started to pull back, but when she made contact stiffened. "Is that what you're mad about? You think this is a date? Because it's not. We're just friends who are going to get coffee. I'll even pay for myself." She shot him an amused grin, but it was quickly dropped when he stared coldly down at her. She tried to start walking again, dropping her hand from his arm. But he grabbed her arm, in the same place she had touched him gently, and pulled her back to face him; his hand remained on hers in a tight grip. "I'm going to be late for class, Jason."

He glared at the building over her head, but grudgingly allowed her to continue on, his hand slid down to her wrist, still holding on, though looser. "It sounds an awful lot like a date. You pay when we go out sometimes," his voice still edged in steel.

"It feels too much like bribery otherwise. When I pay, it's more even, I guess," she glanced up at his face cautiously. It was still carefully blank. Her eyes returned to the pavement.

They arrived at her building and she reached out to pull open the door, but he put his hand on the already heavy door to keep it closed. She stayed facing the door a moment, before turning only her head to meet his steady gaze, cold and indifferent it seemed. "I hope you have fun on your date. Don't come crying to me if he's just using you." He walked away swiftly, not allowing her to reply had she been able.

Her stiff stance was interrupted by the arrival of more of her classmates, all eyeing the door behind her. "Sorry," she muttered before opening the door for them and then following them. She walked the length of the building to the ground floor lecture room where her class met. Sitting down in her usual seat numbly, she pulled her legs up to sit Indian-style, and covered them by tugging up the desk from beside the chair.

"Hey Analiese, how are you today?" rang out from behind her in a cheery, deep voice. She jerked around, looked up at him, unsure, before turning back around to consider her options. They were just as he had laid them out the last time they had talked: she could turn back around, say hello, get to know him, have a friend, and risk losing Jason. Or she could stay where she was, ignore him, never find out what his favorite color was, and find Jason after class to apologize. She was terrified and didn't know what to do. It was like she was caught and the time had stopped around her until it all broke, snapping her back to the present: her classmates chatting happily, loudly, the hum of the projector, and the hand, loosely on her shoulder.

Her decision was made by instinct, she turned around. "Are you ok, Analiese?"

"Yes," uncertainty in every ounce of the three letter word.

"Are we still on for coffee?"

"Yes," more firm, yet still more of a question than an affirmative.

"Wonderful," his wavering grin had been swept away by a beam.

Class proceeded and flew by as Analiese's fear mounted. The minute hand spun as if a tether ball were hit hard by an opponent. She willed it to slow, to stop, but it continued faster and faster. Soon class had ended and she gathered her materials slowly, dragging out the time she had left before she had to face the biggest change she had made in the past three years.

"So where do you want to go?" he asked as he approached her from behind, jumping over the two rows that separated them easily.

"I don't really like coffee, so I don't know," Analiese relied grimly.

"Well, there's a good smoothie stand over by Wrest Hall. You do like smoothies, right?" he smiled at her, in a jesting tone.

"Yeah," she met his eyes and smiled shyly.

"Let's go then. Do you have another class today or are you finished? Anytime you need to be back by?" he grabbed her dark maroon backpack and slung it over his shoulder before she could reply, leaving her to snatch her water bottle before hurrying after him.

"Hey! I can manage my own bag, you know," she called after him as he led the way.

"I know. I just wanted to," he smiled at her over his shoulder.

So similar the words, the older version echoed through her head as she followed mutely, "Hey, do you want to go to the game with me tonight?" a two year younger Jason asked. There were no visible distinctions; only his tone was softer as he grabbed her, waiting for her at the door as she stood stunned next to her desk.

"Uh, sure," had been her response and from there she followed blindly to her position today.

She shook her head, lips tilted down, eyes on the ground before resolutely glaring at his back, not the same as the one she had gazed at in confusion two years before, but the one that mattered now. "No, hand over my bag," so easy to say, but it had once been too scary to say it aloud.

"What? Why?" he glanced back at her in confusion, stopping in his tracks.

"It's my bag; I'll do with it as I please." She too stopped, arms crossed, glaring at him, forcing the other students to stream around them.

He raised an eyebrow, but handed it over silently. "Are you ok?" he asked uncertainly.

"Of course," her voice rang with confidence. "So, Wrest's Hall?" She didn't wait for his answer, but took the lead, pushing her way through the crowded hall towards their destination. He stood, puzzled for a second, before pushing his way after her, her brownish-red hair bobbing ahead.

They arrived outside and he held his hand up to shield against the sun. Squinting in the light, he kept his eyes on her as he continued to follow until she stopped suddenly. "Hurry up, will you? Do you have any other classes today or anytime you need to be back?" She started off again, but at a slower pace so that he could walk beside her.

He matched her stride with hers. "No other engagements today, do you?" he smiled down at her.

"Nope, I'm home-free," she grinned up at him, showing her small, straight teeth for the first time, a testament to two long years of braces.

"You don't have to meet Jason?" his eyebrows shot up in surprise.

"I don't have to do anything," she responded darkly, why couldn't they leave that topic alone? She was trying to deal with it.

"Really? Nothing?" he was watching her intently, his face unreadable.

"I suppose I have to breathe," she returned his gaze as they continued on.

He looked away and chuckled lightly. "Here we are," he interrupted the brief silence that had encompassed them. Analiese grabbed the handle of the door and pulled it open to let herself in before passing it on to him, starting to turn away, but he caught her hand against the door, "You really don't like chivalry, do you?"

"I can open the door myself," she responded lightly, savoring this new freedom.

"I don't mean anything by it," he held her hand tightly, though not painfully, against the door for a second more as he tried to pass his meaning through their eyes before releasing her.

She hesitated as he began up the stairs before turning back to check her progress. "You might not, but others do," slowly, as if causing her pain, she started, but did not explain.

"Jason?" he glanced at her as they ascended the stairwell.

Her wry smile confirmed his speculation. She sighed, "Who else could it be?" They reached the first landing before she seemed to corner him, "It's just that this is how it started out, our relationship. He opened all of the doors, always carried my bag, never let me think for myself, and here we are today. I just… I want… something else," she finished lamely as her angry words dawned on her. "I want something else," she repeated softly, as though making it real.

"I always made excuses for his behavior, you know? He just wants to be near me because he likes me, or he's just being nice holding open all those doors. And then the next thing I know he's closing in on me and…" she paused, unsure of what to say, "I don't know… I don't know how it even happened…" her voice had faded from angry to scared.

"I'm not Jason. I wouldn't do that to you," he said strongly, stepping forward taking her hand.

She glanced down at their hands and sighing before looking back up at him. "Maybe you wouldn't mean to, but I might let you." She released his hand and continued up the stairs.

"So you would say no if I asked you to go out on a date with me?" he caught up with her quickly, and trapped her in his curiosity.

"Well, yeah. I mean, a) I don't know your favorite color, which means I don't know your name; b) I'm still not out of my current relationship; and c) I don't know you," she rolled her eyes, pausing. "So does this place have muffins or something too? I'm kind of hungry," she glanced at him hopefully, her voice more animated.

Thrown off guard, he stammered for a response, "Uh, yeah…" he switched back to their former subject eagerly, "So are you always this hot and cold, or is this new?"

"What do you mean, hot and cold?" she glanced at him confused, quickening the pace, voice losing all excitement.

"I mean your obvious one-eighty in character. You just went from timid, abused girlfriend, to super-feminist in all of about five seconds back there. Do you always do that, or is this an isolated case? Is it real or just temporary?" He pressed on as if discussing his favorite novel.

"It's just now I guess… I hope it's permanent…" she finished quietly, more to herself, brow furrowed. Analiese hadn't thought about it from an outsider's view. What would Jason think? How would Jason respond? Her former anxiety was now back in double. It may not be raining now, but it would have to, once again, soon. No, she wasn't going to think about it. She would cross that bridge when she arrived at it.

He pushed open the door, once again revealing bright sunlight. He held it for her to pass through too, though not obviously, allowing her to remain absorbed in her thoughts. He led the way to the stand. "So what kind of smoothie do you want?" he asked causally.

"I'm paying for myself. This is not a date," her voice firm, resolute, with a small pouting glare.

"I know," his voice fainter than she had ever heard it, causing her to glance up from her pursuit of her wallet inside of her backpack. He was staring off towards a fountain, though from the wistful expression on his face he wasn't gazing at the smooth waters, but something beyond it, something not visible to the naked eye.

"What are you getting?" she brought him out of his reverie, her maroon and black-checked wallet now present in her hand. He smirked at it as if to say, "Maroon again, big surprise."

"I think I'll be adventurous and try a raspberry today, what do you think?"

"I'm going to get strawberry, but that sounds good, too sweet for me."

They both ordered and found a low wall to sit on. Analiese sat against a stone lion, facing him head on. "So, what do normal people talk about in these sort of situations?"

"I wouldn't know. I'm not normal," he quipped immediately, she shot him a look that clearly said, 'You know what I meant!' "How do you like Psychology?"

"Oh, it's ok I guess. Subject is interesting enough, but the lectures are boring as hell. Do you like psychology?"

"Eh, about the same. I don't think you can truly ever figure someone out through mind games alone though. On the other hand, patterns do exist in people and society, wouldn't you say?"

"So normal people discuss psychology and philosophy?" she asked seriously, though confused.

"Uh, I doubt it, but I'm not sure what else there is to discuss… without a lead-in topic."

"How about I submit my guess for your favorite color?" she glanced up to meet his eyes from her smoothie.

His eyebrows arched, "Already? You sure? You only get one guess…" his tone taunting her.

"I'm sure," her eyebrows knit together in concentration. "Upon initial observation you would appear to not have a favorite color, you always wear different colors, your backpack is blue, but your favorite pen is green, your sweatshirt is black, and your hat is orange. That sounds like a terrible combination, but you manage to pull it off. At any rate, your favorite color is red." She nodded as if to confirm her suspicions.

"How did you get red from all of that?" his expression pure disbelief.

"It's the only color you aren't displaying. You're hiding it."

He shook his head and leaned in, beckoning her closer to whisper in her ear. She leaned back, scrunched up her mouth in thought before replying, "I don't know. You'll always be the rain boy to me."