“Dancing in the Rain” is a coming of age short story by Tee Baxter submitted for a contest on Reedsy Prompts.
After a long time of processing her information with the court, she finally reinvented her identity. It only took the majority of the months the year was kind enough to give her. As she stared at the name in the document that had just arrived that morning, her mind was at ease. No longer was she weighed down by the crushing weight of the past. She thought about the relationships in her life. She had a wonderful fiancé and a few friends that had been there for her through this journey. Of course, it’s hard to think of the present without acknowledging the past. A fleeting thought was enough to cause a twinge of pain to her heart.
For the sake of her life, she had to leave permanently. Simply cutting out the ones causing her the most pain was not enough since the rest of the people in her life were too connected to them. She knew that if she attempted to spend time with the others as they’d attempt to try to trick her into meeting with the people she feared the most. There was never any physical threat. However, the damage to the psyche that those people would cause would be irreparable more than it already was.
She sat for a long time on that old porch. She and her fiancé had just scrounged enough money to buy a small home deep in the countryside. It was dirty; the paint on the wood was fading so that it was a muted red with sunspots in some areas and water stains in others. The house was slightly run-down though they made it work; her fiancé volunteered to build homes in their youth and had some experience in the maintenance necessary to keep the place from falling apart. They had a good-sized yard, though surrounded by corn on three sides; while she appreciated the privacy, she did miss the neighborly feeling that her previous city had brought.
It was slightly windy that day, and the sun was peaking through some darkening clouds. A warm day with a breeze was her favorite weather type. The few trees in their yard swayed, making a calming noise in harmony with the wind while old music playing from the speaker through the open window. She could smell the rain was coming from the mixture created by the air and the road nearby. She focused on her breathing as she stared at that name. She had it picked out for a long time; It felt like her, it felt like home.
She sat imagining what life would be like for her loved ones had she followed through with her plans all those many months ago. What it would be like if she were not sitting on her porch looking through her mail. She thought about death and what it could mean. She had always been curious and sometimes close to it. It had always brought her a sense of comfort. Having been raised religious, but no longer, death seemed as a grand adventure. With nothing certain, there’s only one way to find out the answer to this ultimate question. She had always been curious to know the answer. But looking up from her mail at the trees and hearing their sound, she knew in her heart that there were still things in this world joyous enough to keep her from searching too far. Her life was more uncertain than the answer following the inevitable. Although soon to be married, children were not in the plans. Given what she had been through, she did not want to raise children knowing, in her heart, she would not be able to love them fully. The people in her past and the subsequent traumas that she had experienced prevented it. But she was capable of love; the love she felt for her fiancé was like one she had never experienced. She was proud to imagine herself at the alter with him. Along with this she was falling in love with the little things more and more each day, and she realized this as she listened to the soft howling of the wind as the darker clouds came rolling in. Looking back at this new name, she knew she could come to love herself again.
Many hours passed as she mulled over the differences between life and death, the past and the present. Not once did she leave her spot on the old porch. The future did not cross her mind much unless it was to do with the wedding. She hadn’t really planned much beyond that. She had a job but didn’t know if it truly made her happy, so she was toying with the idea of starting a business from her home, possibly by making jewelry or writing. She smiled as her thoughts shifted to her wedding and to her lover. They had fallen in love young despite everyone’s disbelief at first, and they have proven their love time and time again as they continue to support each other through their ups and downs.
She was so caught up in her thoughts that she had barely noticed her lover pulling into their short driveway, walking up to the porch to sit next to her. By then, the weather had shifted as the clouds started to sprinkle. The smell of the rain much stronger bringing a sense of ease to wash away all anxieties of the day.
“You okay?” her lover asked as they sat and started rubbing their knee. They had dropped a box of books onto it during the move two weeks prior; it was still bothering them at times, though they couldn’t find the time to see a doctor as they didn’t think it was that serious anyways.
She didn’t say anything. Instead, she lifted the document up to show her fiancé what had arrived that day, looking up at a bird that had started to chirp. After a quick examination there was a sigh of relief. It was a marker that both of their stressful days worrying about the past were truly over. They could finally move on. She looked back at her lover with a smile, kissed them, and took them by the hand. As she looked over at them, the last of her worries slipped away and were replaced by feelings of love and belonging as she realized how truly in love she was.
“We ought to go inside before the rain gets stronger, eh?” her lover asked as they slowly stood. There was no covering on the porch, both of their clothing became increasingly damp.
She leaned back and arched her head to look towards the speaker in the still open window, droplets splattering into the windowsill and sliding towards the sink below. It would cause stains, but compared to the rest of the house would hardly make a difference. While most would look at the place disgusted, she loved its character. It felt like it had a history she could now be a part of. Like her, it had a chance for a new beginning. She looked back to her loving fiancé and slowly stood, a mischievous grin growing on her face. After sitting for many hours, her pent up energy was finally ready to spill. She let her thoughts drift away as she returned to her usual playfulness and suddenly took her lover by the hand, dragging her off the porch.
With her new sense of freedom she couldn’t think of anything more joyous than dancing to the old tunes playing from the speaker in the window, just out of reach of the rain. She threw her arms up and spun around. She splashed in puddles. All while trying to get her lover to join her as she danced in the rain. She finally knew what it felt like to be one of those girls in the movies who, so overcome with emotion, frolic in the downpour, enjoying the feeling of the droplets falling on their face. Her lover just shook her head and laughed at her expressions of joy, reminded of the reason they had fallen in love with her in the first place.