They say that when it rains, it pours. This statement is only true to the extent you let it be. Is it really pouring, or are you refusing to see the emerging rainbow above the clouds, the rays of sunshine cutting through the storm, the rain eventually letting down? Other times, it is not only pouring, which implies that eventually whoever it is above in the clouds will run out of water to misplace. Rather, one can speak of a storm in the open ocean, where the sky and the surface of the water meet to create a tangible space, which suffocates you slowly over time. Pouring rain means you can find shelter to hide until the sun reappears, but a storm in the open sea means you will certainly drown. 

On an unexpected Saturday morning, thick droplets of water drummed on all outside surfaces in rapid succession with no intention of stopping for at least the next few hours. There was no rainbow, nor any sunshine to be seen in the dark sky. Despite the fact that it was only 10 am, it certainly felt like it was dusk on the brink of giving into the night. Evelyn narrowly managed to find refuge in a nearby cafe, right before they closed their doors to the person behind her with an apology that there was no space left. Indeed, the small business was overflowing with a crowd they had never witnessed before, all with a singular thing on their mind: When will the storm end? 

Evelyn pushed through the swarm of wet bodies until she reached the cashier and ordered a hot latte to warm her freezing hands. While she was waiting at the end of the counter, she followed the frenzy of people outside trying to find shelter from the storm. Umbrellas were breaking and flying into the atmosphere due to the high wind pressure. Jackets were bursting open, exposing the thin layers of clothing underneath. It was late spring, breathing life into early summer, so understandably no one was properly clothed. Reminiscent of the cold breeze, which sweeps you off your feet as you try to lay your beach towel on the sand, angry clouds engulfed the blue void above and the sky began to cry. Evelyn could only be eternally grateful that she had left the park just in time to enter the cafe. 

After her order was called, she cradled the warm porcelain cup in her hands. She continued to observe the menagerie of people gathered inside the small space — mothers with their kids, elderly people, students with their laptops out (who were probably more concerned with revision than the elements waging war outside), and a few couples staring lovingly in each other’s eyes. Her gaze landed on a two-person table where one of the seats was oddly free. The person sitting there had broad shoulders and dark hair. A vaguely familiar leather jacket hid the rest of his frame. Tentatively, she moved across the room and stood before the man. When he looked up from reading his book and their eyes met, it was as if a lightning bolt had struck in the small space between them. 



The quizzical expression on his face told a story of confusion and surprise. Yet his bright green eyes still held the same star-like wonder they did a year ago. 

“What are you doing here?” he asked, as if it were entirely out of the realm of possibility for her to be in the same space as him. 

“Hiding from the storm the way I am assuming you are, as well. You don’t care to invite me to sit down?” The question tasted acidic on her tongue, a sensation she hadn’t felt in a long time. When she took in the sharp features of his cheekbones and nose, thick eyebrows and deep-set eyes, she felt her stomach squeeze in excitement as much as it did in dread. It was an old refrain that played on the strings of her nerves in a brutal staccato. Much like a tired wine stain on a white shirt, it was a sign of a past she wished to forget and yet could not get rid of no matter how hard she tried. 

Their relationship was not complicated in the way a maths equation or a physics experiment is, as that would imply there was a solution to be found, in order to escape the vicious cycle of confusion and oppressive power of the unknown. Rather, it was akin to the natural cycles of the planet — it is rainy and sunny, and cold and unbearably hot, yet there is nothing you can do, but submit to what is beyond your powers. It was easier to deal with the inevitable than to find a way to battle it. After all, eventually you will find a solution to a maths problem, but you cannot find a way to make the rain stop, you can only hope that once it does, the sky will clear and the sun will triumph. But sometimes, the clouds never leave. 

Henry considered her for a heartbeat too long and let out a small sigh. He stood up and pulled the chair out. The screech of its legs against the polished floor was drowned out by the chatter around them and the continuous beating of the raindrops against the windows. Without another word, they both sat down in silence and temporarily avoided each other’s eyes. It was a suffocating awkwardness, which grew like a bubble around them. They weren’t strangers, but they hardly knew each other. 

Henry had grown a beard. Evelyn’s hair was longer and dyed a deep shade of brown. The familiarity of their bodies did not go unnoticed by both of them, as their knees gently touched, pushing the boundaries of space between them. 

Henry fidgeted with the ring on his pointer finger and stared at his empty cup. 

“Unexpected, shitty weather, huh?” He forced a laugh and settled his shy gaze on hers, like a puppy expecting a command. Evelyn couldn’t infer whether he had managed to turn into a completely different person in the span of a year, or he simply refused to fully open up. The sharp contrast between his demeanour and the fading memories of him laughing in their shared kitchen flashed in her mind. 

“You wish to talk about the weather?” 

Evelyn was never provoked, never dug deeper than what was given to her. Yet, the reprieve she felt from the lack of intangible connection between them made her breathe easier, awakening her sense to prod and to force open the clam of conversational possibilities. 

“Alright, how have you been?” Henry asked and seemingly straightened his shoulders. Some of the previous introvertedness chipped away from his frame. 


You want to talk, yet that is all you have to reply to me?” 

“Ask me a better question and I might be more entertaining. The cashier in my neighbourhood’s supermarket asks me the same thing.” 

“Oh, is it Anna, still?” 

“Yes, it is. She had her baby two months ago.” 

“That’s wonderful.”

Evelyn considered her next words for a split second before throwing all caution to the storm outside. This was a neutral game. Nothing to lose, nothing to win.

“For a while I thought we might be in the same shoes.” 

The cruel reality of having succumbed to the imminent failure of their past selves permeated the air like the stale smell of old, overworn clothes. It was familiar, yet foreign. It was nostalgic, yet deeply regrettable. 

Henry did not immediately reply, for this was a conversation they had had before. Looking at the calendar, hung up on the wall, Evelyn noted that it was a year to the day they had last spoken. The 27th of May. Whether it was divine intervention, or dumb luck, they were yet again brought together to try and stifle the feeling of loss. 

“For a long while, I thought about a lot of things.” 

“I wouldn’t conflate five years with a long while, Lyn,” Henry replied, and by the certainty in his eyes, Evelyn could tell that the use of her old nickname was not an honest mistake caused by habit. 

Henry had a habit of trying to soften her rough edges — whenever she raised her voice, whenever she laughed too loud, whenever he could hear the music she blasted in the shower, whenever he had to fake laugh at her lame jokes. At what point does kindness turn into cruelty? Eve was more aggressive than the latter part of her name. Eve, the first woman to have ever lived, was a symbol of sin, of a grave mistake. He did not wish to think of mistakes. 

“For five years I thought about a lot of things.” She repeated. “You did as well. The question is, what do you think about now?” 

He laughed — a genuine stream of air pushed through his nostrils and a deep rumble escaped his throat. A smirk graced his lips and he fully leaned into the chair, spreading his legs away from hers. 

“I thought to the point of buying a ring. I thought to the point of personally paying off a mortgage.” He swayed his gaze, before setting it back on her. “Now I think of what would have happened if I did.” 

“So you’re not at peace with yourself?” Evelyn cocked her head to the side, as she inquired further. She had seen him looking at wedding ring websites. At some point, he was also uncharacteristically enthusiastic surveilling the latest housing market announcements. 

“I see you don’t want me to ask questions, after all,” Henry calmly stated. Before Evelyn could get another word out, he continued. “I try to be at peace as much as I can. I run every morning. I drink tea instead of coffee. I eat more vegetables than I do meat. I don’t drink. I haven’t touched a cigarette in months.” 

Evelyn suspiciously eyed the pack of Marlboro Reds, peaking through the front pocket of his jacket, and raised an eyebrow. 

“I keep it as a testament to my willingness to stop.” 

“A bit dramatic.” 

“You know I have a penchant for that. Do you still drink your coffee black?” 

“With milk and sugar. I cut off my mother,” Evelyn added. 

She felt like she was in limbo between the confines of the cafe and the small distance separating her and Henry, a trance-like state where the rest of the world was cut off and the only people were her and him. Suddenly, the suffocating awkwardness from before turned into a safe haven. She felt comfortable in this imaginary bubble. They knew each other, they were hardly strangers. She was reminded of all the late nights spent talking into oblivion about life and the universe, and their favourite movies, and the implications of new elections, and what it means to be human. Yet, the memory of shared isolation, sitting across from each other during dinner, while loneliness suffocates you, was just as aggressive in memory. Everything was perfect and nothing was ever fully okay — this was perhaps the only way Evelyn could describe their years together. She couldn’t say whether it was because of a lack of love or lack of motivation to upkeep the initial fire they had started. Or maybe, it was both. He was good to her, she was good to him, but that was never really enough, was it? 

“So, have you found peace?” He asked back. 

“Finding peace and being at peace with yourself are not the same thing. You find peace in the material expression of your being — when your house is tidy, when the meal you made tastes good, when they play your favourite song in the car. Being at peace with yourself means that you don’t have regrets.” 

“So what do you regret, Evelyn? All, nothing at all?” 

She could tell he felt hopeful that she would say that regret had followed every step of her shadow since she left their shared apartment. Her emotions let her understand that much. Yet, she couldn’t find the expected bitterness in her. The initial shock of having seen Henry had worn off. The relief of fulfilling her decision three hundred and sixty-five days ago bathed her body in warmth. She was silent in her basking. 

“What does it take for you to fall in love, Evelyn?” questioned Henry. 

She took in the full frame of the man before her — broad shoulders, a square face, gentle eyes and curly hair. His expression was a portrait of yearning and woe, but his beauty was undeserving of sorrow. By all means of the imagination, he was loveable. Evelyn thought she did, but the rationale wouldn’t let her betray her feelings. 

“When I learn, I’ll tell you, Henry.” 

The loud ring of the cafe’s bell broke the glass fortress they had built around themselves. Evelyn turned around and the bright sun blinded her. People started leaving one by one in languid fluidity, expressing their wonder at the weather as if they had been starved of sunlight and the blue canvas of the sky. The crowd emptied the establishment until the only people left inside were the overworked barista, Evelyn and Henry. 

Henry cleared his throat and stood up. 

“Let’s go before another storm comes.” 

They bid their goodbyes to the barista and closed the door behind them. They stood in silence on the sidewalk as the street began to fill up with lively chatter. After the rain, the green hues of the park on the next corner seemed brighter and the exciting song of the birds harmonised with the laughter of kids. 

“It was nice seeing you, Evelyn. I hope-”

“What does it take for you to fall in love, Henry?” She cut him off short. 

Surprise graced his features for a split second before he regained his composure and answered with conviction akin to that of a priest. “Your laughter, Lyn.”

The answer caught her off guard in a way she did not expect. 

“I hope you find the same someday. Goodbye.” 

He walked off abruptly, leaving her alone on the sidewalk to digest his words. Except, there wasn’t much to ponder on. The birds sang, and the sun reflected in large puddles on the side of the pavement. Peace was all around and Evelyn let herself believe that, eventually, all clouds disperse. 


Other posts that may interest you: