I have always loved the rain, especially when it falls with such fervor. It is cathartic. Thunderstorms are the best, each vociferous strike as satisfying as perforating a wall with my fist--but without the pain. However, those hypocritical, indecisive Florida sun showers are just irritating. I find them as teasing as does the parched grass, baking in the sun for weeks without relief.
Why was I crying? For the same reason the rain fell, I suppose. Every day, I had absorbed little bits of pain, frustration, and anger until I could no longer hold it in. So I turned on some soulful music, threw myself on my bed, buried my face in a pillow, and became a sobbing lump of flesh. It isn't pretty when it happens, but just like the rain, sometimes it is necessary. Occasional rain maintains life; occasional crying maintains my sanity. I've found that there's no point in fighting sadness when it comes; it's best to wallow in it for a while with all your heart--and then let it go. Nina, a good cry, and a thick, heavy rain do the trick for me every time.
So, I sat there, on my bed, legs folded under me, arms hugging the damp pillow, staring out the window, entranced by the downpour. I don't remember exactly what I was thinking; probably how miserable I felt. But I do remember an increasing serenity, enveloping me, as I sat there. I had this odd, comforting notion that the heavens felt my pain and wanted to show their empathy. Each drop of rain was a reassuring hand caressing me and the rushing sound was a sweet whisper in my ear telling me everything was going to be all right.
A heavy-handed banging on my front door suddenly broke the spell. I continued to sit there, though, hoping whoever it was would go away.
"Come on, Brooke," called a familiar irritated voice. "I know you're in there."
I knew he wouldn't go away, so I let out a deep sigh and got up. When I opened the door, I found him standing on the porch, soaked, his salt and pepper hair a thick disheveled mass. I could tell by the look on his face I wasn't going to like whatever he'd come to tell me. I was half tempted to shut the door on him and walk away--but I didn't. I stood there for a moment, staring at him. He folded his arms over his chest and stared back. We were beyond speaking; we knew exactly what each other was thinking. I let out another sigh and went to the hall closet for a towel, leaving him standing in front of the open door.
When I came back, he was inside the doorway. He'd taken off his raincoat and was shaking it off outside the door. Once enough of the loose rain had been freed, he hung the coat on the rack and closed the door.
"Thank you," he said, taking the towel from my hand.
"Don't mention it," I said, a bit sarcastically, and walked over to turn off the stereo.
"You still pouting?" he asked, vigorously drying his hair.
"How could you tell?"
"Besides the puffy eyes and the depressing music?" he said, his lips twisting into a slight smirk. "Call it a good hunch."
"You know, Wade," I said defensively, putting my hands on my hips, "it's times like this when I really would like to tell you to go to hell."
"So, why don't you?" he challenged with that smile that ruined me.
Why don't I? Because I love you, you idiot. Of course, I didn't tell him that. I didn't have to.
Instead I let out a weak groan and flopped onto the sofa.
"I'm afraid I didn't come with good news," he said, his expression growing serious.
"There's a shocker," I said as he threw the towel over the back of the chair by the front door. That's when I noticed the thick file on the seat of the chair. He must have put it there when he first came in. My eyes remained fixed on the file as he picked it up and walked it over to me. He stood in front of me, offering it to me. All I could do was stare at it. I was paralyzed by the thought of what was lurking in it. I think I already had a sense of what it was.
"I really don't want to see this, do I?" I asked, looking up at him pathetically.
"No," he said, "but you have to."
I forced my hand to take the file; there wasn't much conviction in it. When he let it go, it was gravity that brought it to rest on my lap.
"I'm going to get you some wine," he said, walking towards the kitchen.
I took a deep breath and opened the file. As I read the contents, an invisible force reached inside me and began squeezing my vital organs. It grew increasingly difficult to breathe. A huge lump formed in my throat; tears burned in my eyes. Distance. You must keep some distance, I told myself. How can I survive, if I always let these things affect me so deeply? What kind of human being would I be if they didn't?
"Here," said Wade, offering me the glass of red wine he returned with.
"I can't," I barely choked, waving off the wine. "I think I'm going to be sick."
He put the glass on the coffee table and sat down next to me.
"They put an innocent man to death," I said, almost in a trance after spending some moments staring blankly into space.
"Yes, they did," he said in a low resigned voice, wiping a stray tear from my cheek.
I looked at him; I looked into his eyes. It amazed me he looked so calm. How could he be so calm? I struggled to hold myself within my skin. I was sick with anger and grief. He had worked as hard, had invested as much of himself into saving Charlie Higgins as I had. Why wasn't he infuriated? Why wasn't he bouncing off the walls, screaming at the top of his lungs? Why wasn't he shattering everything in sight?
I bounded from the sofa, throwing the file onto the coffee table, almost knocking over the glass of wine.
"How can you sit there?" I spat, wildly pacing the room. "They purposely kept this information from us! An innocent man was murdered this morning! How can you sit there?"
"What," he said, leaning forward, his brow severly furrowed, "you think reading that didn't tear me apart too? What good will it do to drive ourselves insane with anger? It won't change anything. It won't bring him back."
I'd made him angry and that made me feel better somehow. I turned away from him and walked to the window. I stood in front of it for some time, watching the waterfall of rain pour off the roof, centering myself. His pragmatism had always irritated me; mostly, because he was right. He was always right. It wasn't that I thought he didn't feel anything. I knew he did. I just found his control over his feelings unnerving. Maybe I was jealous. After all, I was the queen of wallowing. This conflict between thinking and feeling didn't only occur between him and me. It was a constant battle raging within me. I think it rages within us all. With me, feeling usually wins and by a healthy margin, too. I guess that's my one major flaw. Then again, maybe it's not such a flaw.
When I finally turned around, I saw him still sitting on the edge of the sofa, staring at his clasped hands. I walked over and sat next him. He sensed my presence and looked at me, probably waiting for another rain of emotion. But I was letting go.
"Why did you show me that?" I asked in a calmer tone. "You had to know what it would do to me."
"You would have preferred I keep it from you?" he asked, leaning towards me, putting his arm over the back of the sofa.
"No," I said, looking down at my hands, "but today of all days."
"Would it have been any better if I told you tomorrow or if you read it in the paper next week?"
I looked at him. "No." We looked into each other's eyes for several long moments. "I don't know how much more of this my heart can take," I said finally.
He gently brushed his hand over my cheek. "That's why I need your help."
"I need you to do what you do best," he said with a warm smile.
"And what's that?" I asked, smiling for the first time all day.
"Move people," he said with absolute sincerity, "so this never happens ever again."
His intensity left me speechless. How could I refuse? I let out a deep sigh and smiled. He smiled back.
"You know," I said, shaking my head, "one of these days, I am going to tell you to go to hell."
"But not today," he said with that devastating smile.
"No," I said, with a light laugh, "not today."