Raindrop Parade: Teaser

Glorietta After Midnight

We were headed toward the beach. “We’re going the wrong way,” I said, then regretted it. I felt like breathing in the salt air.

“The streets are so dark here. Don’t you guys believe in streetlamps?”

I couldn’t imagine them any other way. “Turn right,” I said. “And then turn here.” He did as he was told. I wanted to tell him something but I didn’t know what. I wanted to ask him questions. But we weren’t far from Home and time was slipping by like water. A sadness crept inside me as we passed all the familiar houses on the route home. “Okay, now turn at this corner,” I said.

“Is this your street?”

“Yep,” I said, glad that it was dark. We passed by Skot’s house which blended into the black night. “You can stop at that porch light up there.”

He curved along Tigertail. “Do you ever see your neighbors?”

I froze. Did he know something about Skot? “Not really. Why?”

“Just curious. Is this your house?”

“Yeah.”

“It’s so cute! Like a Hansel and Gretel gingerbread house.”

I shrugged.

He stopped the van and put the gear in neutral, looking at my house. There was still a brownish yellow mark on the stucco where it’d been egged by one of Clark’s friends.

“So am I going to see you again?” he said quickly.

“If you want.”

“I think Iris might have lost your number. Maybe you should give it to me again. Unless you want to communicate through smoke signals or telepathy or something, which could be cool too.”

I laughed. “Okay, let’s try it. But in case it doesn’t work, I’ll give you my phone number and you give me yours.”

“Deal. I know there’s a pen around here somewhere.” He fumbled through the stuff along Harriet’s floor and pulled out a ballpoint, then scrambled to find a piece of scratch paper, but there were only the glossy bits of plastic and waxy paper that wouldn’t take the ink. I was about to pull out my pocket notepad when he said, “Here, let me have your hand, madam,” and he reached over and took my hand and wrote his number on my left palm. The pen tickled and his skin was warm and electric. I could feel him breathing in and out. It put me in a temporary state of paralysis. “Now you,” he said, and gave me the pen. I took his hand and wrote my number on it. I tried to see any noticeable lines on his palm, but it was too dark. “Cool,” he said when I was finished. “I’ll talk to you later then,” he said.

“Thanks for the ride home.” I felt for the door handle.

“No problem. It was good seeing you again, Sable. Have a safe walk home.”

I went up the walkway to my house feeling his eyes on me. I hated when people waited for you to open the door. I fumbled for my keys and eventually turned the lock open. When I turned around he was still staring at me. I waved and he waved and I walked through the door and turned off the porch light.

The house was dark. I walked up to my room as silently as possible and closed the door. I flicked on the light and pressed my left hand to a clean sheet of paper where his backwards name and number would be preserved.

A restless itch burned at the back of my throat, working its way into my spine. It was an itch I couldn’t quite scratch, a longing I couldn’t touch. Flashes of people from the party spiked through my head, faces flying, fingers curling, his hot arm, her wet mouth, his chipped tooth. What to make of them, what to make. I was on the brink of something new, on the edge of the void without a guide. I knew some facts, but couldn’t put the whole puzzle together. I felt like someone was trying to tell me about a dream they’d had. No matter how vivid or fantastic it was, it could never be fully realized; it had to be experienced by the dreamer. I wanted to be the dreamer.

I was going to have to conduct my own experiments. Give myself a little taste of everything in a controlled environment before plunging in with other people. If I knew how I’d react alone, then I could judge how it would be with others. I had to get to the bottom of the things that bothered me or worse, things I feared.

I took out my notebook and started a list.

Things to try:

1. Smoking
2. Drinking
3. Ditching class
4. Stealing
5. Sex