Not really sure how to feel about it
Something in the way you move
Makes me feel like I can't live without you
It takes me all the way
It was raining elephants the day he met her.
Not cats, not dogs, elephants.
She was shivering under her thin dress, clutching her arms. The park was empty, and no one was there to comfort her.
Except for him. He, who didn't know her, who didn't particularly care for strangers that he knew nothing about. He, who had a hidden past, shoved in the steel, hard ball that he protected from everyone he knew.
He saw her sitting on the bench. Her face was soaked with tears. The first thing he had noticed about her was that her bright blue eyes were shining. Not with happiness, but with the tears that were falling rapidly. The grief.
He wasn't sure what to do. She had noticed him, and almost seemed… ashamed that she was breaking down in public.
He wasn't sure what do, but he knew that anyone in that sort of pain shouldn't have to deal with it alone.
So he sat down next to her, took off his waterproof jacket, and settled it on her shaking shoulders. Startled, she had stopped sniffling and looked up to him. A second after she saw him, her head dropped back down with another sniff. In the short time he had looked into her eyes, he saw hope, and then disappointment and hurt.
"What's wrong?" he asked tenderly, regretting the words the second he said them. No one wanted to be asked that.
She shook her head.
"You can talk to me."
She shook her head again, but said something in reply. Her voice was cracked and hoarse with shame and regret. "My family."
He awkwardly put a hand on her shoulder, trying to comfort her. "Your family?"
She let out another sob, turning her head to face him. "My… my family… I was just at their-" her voice broke, and she stopped.
Seeing that pain he was putting her in, he said in a most comforting voice he could summon, "I'm sorry, you don't have to tell me."
She burst into even more tears at 'I'm sorry', turning her head away again. "Funeral," she whispered.
He decided not to say 'I'm sorry' again.
"Are you… Do you want to take you anywhere? Is there anywhere you can go?"
She shrugged helplessly. "The court says I'll be living with my aunt and my uncle." She gulped, and took a deep breath in between her sobs. "I want to live with my brother, but he's in college and can't take care of me."
"I thought you said your family…"
She laughed bitterly, and swallowed down something again. "Just my mother, my father, and one of my brothers." Her jaw clenched, and she half-sobbed half-exhaled. "Terry."
"Terry's dead!" she shouted, bolting up. She whirled around, her eyes gleaming with a fury he hadn't seen before. "He's dead and there's nothing I can do about it. I should have died. I should have died instead of him. I should have died with him." His jacket slid off her shoulders, exposing its soft inside to the pounding rain.
She wiped her eyes, and the fire inside her seemed to have dimmed a little, ridding it of the passion that was apparent a few seconds ago. "He's gone," she whispered.
He stood up. "Hey," he whispered, standing closer to her. "He would have wanted you to live, wouldn't he? He wouldn't want to you to die. He would want you to live happily."
She turned her head to the side. "But… it's not fair…" Her blue eyes had a faraway look in them, like she was trying to see her dear brother on the other side.
His heart ached. He didn't know this girl, this broken girl, but he wanted to help her. It was a feeling he hadn't felt before. Most likely because he hadn't dealt with girls whose family is dead before. But he wanted to help.
He stepped in closer and put his arms around her. She stiffened at first, but then relaxed and laid her head on his right shoulder. He was slightly taller than her, but it was an okay fit and she let her muscles loose.
"Where's your aunt and your uncle?" he asked, speaking into the air behind her.
She shifted a little and stepped away from the embrace. She seemed to be a little less cold. "They… oh, no. They'll be wondering where I am."
He looked around, before returning his gaze to her face. He noted with relief and a little happiness that she had stopped crying. "Why didn't you stay with them after the funeral?"
He knew that he was digging at her, something raw and hurting. But he had to do. He had to find out what was wrong, to make her better. To fix it.
She bit her lip. "I… I had to go."
"Do you want to go back now?"
Slowly, she nodded.
"All right, then. Let's take you back." He put his arm around her. "Where do you live?"
Her eyes widened in surprise. "That's nearly ten blocks away! How long did it take for you to get here?"
She shrugged. "A few minutes. I ran."
That was when he knew that he would fix her, no matter the cost.
Six years later
The door burst open. "Heyya, mah mother…" Isabelle faltered when she saw his parents. "…hugger."
Ethan smothered a snigger. "Hey, Izzy."
Ethan's mother barely stopped her giggle. "We're just going to go upstairs, aren't we, Desmond?"
"Yes, we are, Fiona," Ethan's father, replied, grinning.
Isabelle rolled her eyes as soon as his parents were gone. "Your parents are so cool."
Ethan shrugged, smirking. He stood up, and held his hands out. "I must say, it runs in the family."
"You obviously didn't inherit it, then."
The two burst out laughing. Isabelle sat down next to Ethan on the couch, and they turned on Big Time Rush.
"I must say, James is quite hot, don't you think?" Isabelle said nonchalantly, glancing at Ethan.
Ethan was trying not to burst out laughing. "If I gave my opinion on that, I would be viewed as gay, so…"
Isabelle raised her right eyebrow. "Are you saying that you're attracted to him?" She had to hold in her giggles. Now was not that right time to relinquish her self-control.
Ethan had no problems with that whatsoever. He stared at her in disbelief for a few seconds, before placing a hand on Isabelle's forehead. "Are you sure you're all right?"
The two laughed together, again.
Best friends laughed together all the time, after all.
It had all started when he met her in that lonely park all those years ago. Unlike most ten year old boys, he had stopped and asked her what was wrong. Isabelle knew, then, that he would become someone close to her. She just didn't know how close.
Slowly, he had healed her. Turns out that he had a perfectly normal family, unlike the 'handsome boy with a wretched past' that she had imagined. But it was enough for her—someone as amazing as Ethan couldn't be taken for granted.
It was like he had been sent from heaven, a replacement for her family. Isabelle wasn't sure what to think about that theory, since she knew that no replacement would be good enough for the hole in her heart. Her family could only be replaced by someone so truly special, so perfect and amazing, someone that only existed in her imagination.
But Ethan was damn close to that ideal guy.
Two years later
"Oh. Em. Jay!" Isabelle squeaked, and snatched up the envelope. She practically launched it in Ethan's face, startling him. Out of instinct, Ethan caught the envelope and peered at it.
"What's this?" he asked.
She smacked him on the head, and he smiled. The girl couldn't hit for her life, not matter how good she was at sprinting and long-distance and high jump and all sports. "It's a letter from Stanford, you idiot!"
He frowned. "You haven't it opened it yet."
"So?" Her excitement was peaking. He could tell.
"It could be a rejection letter."
For not the first time in his life, he wished he wasn't so blunt and ignorant when Isabelle suddenly wilted. Her eyes stopped glittering with excitement and joy. "Oh. Right."
He sighed inwardly. "Aw, Izzy, you know it's like there's a ninety-nine percent chance that it's an acceptance letter. You're so damn smart!" he lightly tapped her on the head.
She smiled. "I suppose you could be right."
"Of course I am. Now let's open it."
Isabelle snatched the envelope away, and practically tore open the thing. Ethan was half-afraid that she would rip the letter inside, but miraculously, she didn't. Holding his breath as she did, Isabelle unfolded the paper. Instead of squealing like he expected her to, she passed the paper and squeezed her eyes shut. "Read it for me."
"What?" Ethan felt confused. "Dude, it's your letter. You read it."
"Just read it!" she snapped.
"All right, all right, don't get snappy about it," he grumbled good-naturedly, and read the first few words.
"Oh my fucking god, Izzy, you're accepted!" Ethan didn't usually swear, but his best friend getting into her dream college was certainly a time for it.
Isabelle's eyes opened immediately, like snapping a curtain up after a long night without sunshine. "Are you serious?"
"Read it if you don't believe me!" Ethan passed her the paper, waiting impatiently as she scanned the first few lines.
Isabelle's mouth dropped open, and her eyes shone again. "Oh my fucking god, Ethan, I was accepted!"
"I'm going to Stanford!"
"You're going to Stanford! This is so fucking awesome!"
"I can't believe it!"
Ethan hugged her tightly, grinning. "Better believe it, Izzy." He grinned. "You're going to Stanford."
Two days later
"What's wrong?" Isabelle asked the second she saw Ethan's face. He looked ashen, worn-out, and tired. And he was holding a piece of paper in his hand.
When Ethan didn't answer, Isabelle took a seat next to him on the couch in his house. His parents were nowhere to be found.
Isabelle peered at the envelope the letter had come from. It was from Dartmouth University.
"Hey, did you get in? Ethan?"
Ethan sighed as he turned to look at Isabelle. "I got in."
Isabelle's eyebrows flew up in surprise, and she squealed, grabbing Ethan's shoulders. "That's so amazing! You got in! Why're you so depressed?"
"Dartmouth's two days away from Stanford, Izzy!"
Isabelle faltered, her smile dropping. "So?" Even as the question let her mouth, she knew why he was so depressed.
Ethan sighed again. "I just… Dartmouth's my dream college and I'm accepted…"
"You can't just give up your dream, Ethan! Just because we'll be two days away doesn't matter! We can visit each other during the holidays. Dude, you have to go." Isabelle's chest ached with every word. The prospect of not seeing him for months at a time was horrifying, but she couldn't let him push away his entire life for her.
Ethan buried his hand in his heads. "Izzy…"
Ethan sat up again, staring at his acceptance letter. "Do you really think I should go?"
"Of course! You fucking got into Dartmouth!"
Ethan smiled weakly.
It wasn't much, but it was a ghost of his normal smile.
That was when Isabelle knew that she would miss him terribly.
Six months later
"Heyya, mah-" Isabelle stopped abruptly when she caught sight of Ethan. He was making out heatedly with a pretty girl with raven hair and blue eyes. He was facing away from her. "Whoa… I guess I'll come back later…"
Isabelle slammed the door closed before Ethan could even say anything.
Isabelle didn't know why, but she felt horrible. The second she had caught sight of him and the girl, she hurt.
She just didn't know why.
Four months later
"Izzy Bark, I've-" Ethan stopped abruptly. Isabelle was sitting on a carpet in her dorm room, next to a guy with brown hair and brown eyes. It was evident they were about to kiss. "Um… I…"
Isabelle whipped her gaze to Ethan. "Oh! Ethan! Shoot! Hi! Why're you here? Brandon, you might wanna… uh…"
Brandon nodded understandingly, but as he walked out the door, he shot a glare at Ethan, like it was his fault that he didn't know they were about to devour each other's faces.
Isabelle sighed. "Just get out. My day just got worse."
"What?" Isabelle never said anything like that. In fact, seeing her best friend should've made her felt better, not made her day worse.
"I was just making progress with Brandon!" she moaned, running her hands through her blonde hair. "And now you…" She gestured at him wildly.
Without a word, Ethan left.
And it felt like his heart was shattering to pieces.
Two weeks later
Isabelle stared in disbelief at the screen. This couldn't be true. She leaned in closer, her eyes wide, willing the words to change.
I don't want to be friends anymore. I'm sorry.
Not even a 'Love' or 'Sincerely' or even 'Yours'. Just a measly hyphen.
What did he mean by this?
Was this a joke?
Isabelle leaned backwards onto her chair, thinking. Ethan was known to play tricks on people, but at this degree… He had to be serious.
That meant he really didn't want to be her friend anymore.
But they had been best friends for more than ten years now!
Isabelle Bark dropped her head and started to cry.
Three years later
"College is over, college is over, unless you wanna, take another, sucky degree, where you study pee, college is over, college is over," Isabelle sang, along with her best friend Maya. The two burst out laughing after they finished singing.
"Man, I can't believe it! It's been four years already!" Maya high-fived Isabelle, grinning. "No more Mr. Perky!"
"Mr. Porky, you mean!"
The two laughed again.
"All right, so, tomorrow at Starbucks?" Isabelle glanced back at Maya.
Maya made two finger guns at Isabelle. "Ya betcha, girl!"
Isabelle laughed again and headed to her car.
Her mood sobered immediately, as she did every time she headed into her car. She had hung up a picture of Ethan and her laughing, with Ethan's arm over her shoulders. It was taken a few years ago during the summer holiday, before he had sent her that email and never contacted her again after.
She didn't know why she didn't take it down. It hurt every time she saw it, but she kept it there, leaving it to sway gently in the breeze as she drove.
It still hurt.
One day later
Was that her?
Ethan squinted, though he felt like a stalker. The woman had her blonde hair, her same figure, the arc of her back… He felt sure it was her.
Then again, he'd felt sure it was his former best friend before, and it had turned out to be random people on the streets that bore the slightest resemblance to Isabelle Bark.
She was heading towards a Starbucks with a girl with dark, curly hair.
Feeling extremely pathetic and desperate, he followed her in.
If that was Isabelle, then this was the first time he'd seen her in years. He'd de-friended her on Facebook, unfollowed her on Twitter and Instagram, and just about disconnected himself from every aspect of her life. He hoped that she had forgotten about him too.
She was bad for him. He knew that. Ever since he saw that message from Aaron that Isabelle didn't even care about him, or like him, for the matter, he had to been heartbroken. He cut himself off from her, but still thought about her all the time. There was something about Isabelle that drew him to her, even without their history together.
Ethan sat down in the booth behind Isabelle and the curly-haired girl's. Isabelle stood up, heading for the counter, and Ethan followed her, feeling like an idiot.
It started raining outside. It was a drizzle at first, but rapidly turned into a heavy downpour as he stood in line behind Isabelle. Ethan's heart was pounding—this was the closest he'd been to Isabelle in years.
He felt slightly like a maniacal paedophile.
"Two chocolate chip Frappuccino's, please," she called out. Ethan felt even more nervous. It really was her—her voice was the same.
Isabelle stepped to the side to let Ethan order after paying. She glanced at him once, and out of the corner of his eyes he could see her gasp and widen her own eyes. Then, much to his disappointment, she shook her head slightly, almost to herself, and turned around to gesture at the curly-haired girl to pass the time.
Ethan's attention snapped back to the person behind the counter, staring at him expectantly. He felt stupid now. "Uh, sorry. Um, a mocha Frappuccino, please."
"Coming right up," she said, and turned to give her colleague the order. As he moved to let the person behind him order (after paying), Isabelle received her two drinks and walked away. His heart dropped again—with relief or disappointment, he wasn't sure.
A few minutes passed in a blur. Ethan got his drink and sat down behind Isabelle and the curly-haired girl.
Suddenly, he heard her say, "'Cause you're mah bestie, Maya!"
So that was her name.
The two burst out laughing, and Ethan vaguely heard the sound of a drink shaking, the ice inside clanking against each other and the walls of the cup. Isabelle always did that with the ice.
Feeling a sudden bout courage, he stood up and walked over the Isabelle. Maya stopped talking immediately, and Isabelle glanced around the see what was wrong. Then she saw Ethan.
She breathed out once, slowly. "Ethan."
"Isabelle, can you-"
"Izzy, can you just come with me?"
Isabelle raised her eyebrow, suddenly looking more confident and suave than she ever did in the past. When he still knew her. "Into the pouring rain? I think not. Unless you have a good reason."
"Just come with me, Izzy."
"Just go with him, Isabelle." Maya had been glancing between the two like a tennis match, but now she was staring at Isabelle expectantly.
Sighing, Isabelle stood up and followed Ethan out the door.
"Why does she call you Isabelle?" Was the first thing out of Ethan's mouth as soon as the doors closed.
Isabelle looked away. "Why not? It's my name."
"I call you Izzy."
Ethan paused. He kept forgetting that he had gradually faded out of her life in the past three years. "Look, Izzy, I know that you don't like me, I know you find me annoying, but I had to talk to you."
Isabelle's head whipped around to stare at him, and she frowned. "What do you mean, I don't like you?"
"You don't have to put up the act anymore; Aaron told me-"
Isabelle laughed bitterly, breaking his sentence. "Aaron? What does Aaron know? How would he know if I liked you or not?"
"Just… stop." Isabelle put a finger on Ethan's chest. "If you chose to believe Aaron over our friendship, then just go. I don't want to see you again."
As Isabelle turned to leave, Ethan made a choice. He grabbed Isabelle's arm, starting that cliché scene in each romance movie where the female turns to leave and male catches her arm and they stare soulfully into each other's eyes.
Before Isabelle could react, Ethan leaned forward and kissed her.
Surprised, the two stumbled a little, away from underneath the Starbuck's roof that shielded them from the rain. Isabelle's arms hooked themselves around Ethan's neck, to prevent herself from falling down onto the wet floor.
When the two broke away, Isabelle looked away from him. Her arms were still around his neck, though.
Ethan felt disappointed. Maybe it was a mistake. Maybe she didn't feel the same way-
"I didn't know," Isabelle breathed. Her voice was barely a whisper. "If I'd known that you felt the same way…"
She looked back to him. "I only let people call me Isabelle because it hurt too much to hear them call me Izzy." She looked at the ground, then laughed, smiled, and looked back up. "I missed you, Ethan."
"I missed you too, Izzy."
Then two looked up at the sky. It was still raining.
"Just like when we met," Ethan whispered. Isabelle nodded.
It was raining elephants.
A/N: Hello, hope you enjoyed it! I'm a sucker for most nice, cozy, warm cliches, and since childhood best friends is one, I wrote one. I was in the middle of writing Crystal Clear when I suddenly got the idea of 'It was raining elephants', and so I just randomly opened a Word Document and started writing. No plot, no anything. Just writing. It felt nice to do that. :)