He was all set to go down to the basement when he heard knocks on his kitchen door. The first knock sounded like the wind. He dismissed it without hesitation. The second knock echoed in his head like a faded memory. He paused at the basement entrance and hoped he was mistaken. But the third knock sounded so clear that he could not ignore it.
When he opened the door, he saw only white swirls covering the small frame of the door. The wild wind blew the stranger's white long curls about and hid her face. When the wind settled, a pair of pale violet eyes shouted loudly at him while her thin eyebrows were knotted into a worry line. Her skin appeared to be void of color and yet soft looking. She wore a long coat as white as snow. Around her neck and almost covering her face was a white scarf knitted with large patterns of yellow stars. He stood there looking at her unsure if he was dreaming.
The wind, again, began to blow behind her, shifting strands of his uncombed hair and spitting rain in his face. He shook his head and gently pulled her inside and closed the door. Her white boots lightly echoed on the wooden tiles as she shifted her weight. Raindrops fell from her boots as she walked.
He told the lady to take a seat. It felt strange to him to hear his voice. His strained words reminded him he had been much too long without company.
The kitchen was small but large enough for a medium-sized table and three wooden chairs that he made. There was but one light illuminating the room - a stark bulb that hung down and kept everything in shadows.
She sat down in one of the wooden chairs, barely making a sound. She adjusted her scarf so that the stars were smoothed out. She kept her head bended so that her face hid in the shadows. He sat facing her trying to think of reasons that she should go.
It was a few seconds later that it occurred to him that he needed to go down to the basement to check for flooding. It has been raining for a few months now and tonight, there was a chance of flooding. He began to wonder why he left his sunny home. He never needed to check for flooding nor did he needed an umbrella. After he lost Stella, his only daughter, he felt dry and empty but here, every day, the sky cries for him.
When he returned, the lady was still sitting there. She seemed so small to him now. Her small hands rested comfortably on each side of the armrest. She turned when he approached. He flicked on the portable radio that was sitting on the kitchen table. A tornado was coming. He did not look at the lady as he spoke to her, asking if she needed to stay until the tornado is over. She lifted her eyes to the light. He turned to see them staring at him. She nodded her head silently. He tried to smile but his lips kept themselves in a downward curve. He told her they will have to stay in the basement. At least he didn't need to worry about flooding even if he might not have a house afterward.
He went to the cabinets and opened a drawer pulling out a flashlight along with two sets of batteries which he dropped into his coat pockets. He then turned off the radio and picked it up and tucked it under his arm. She stared at the few drops of rain where the radio was. Under the light, looked like speckles of yellow stars. He supposed that was why she stared at them. He started walking toward the other side of the kitchen assuming she would follow him. The basement entrance was at the corner, where it might go unnoticed if he had not painted the door a bright lemon.
At the entrance, he turned to see if she was following. His long nose stuck her forehead. He muttered an apology but did not wait to see her reaction. He quickly turned and walked down the flight of stairs, flicking on the flashlight midway. He pulled at a white string hanging above and a lightbulb goes on, casting a faded shade of yellow on a wooden table and two gray chairs. He turned off the flashlight and placed it and the radio on the table.
The lady appeared and stood under the dim yellow light. He did not hear her steps and was momentary surprised to see her. He let out a chuckle and pointed at one of the gray chair. Her eyes smiled at him. She took a turn about the room inspecting everything with her fingers which he now noticed were quite small for a lady. She returned to her spot under the light and sat down.
He pulled two small paperbacks from a shelf among the boxes of candles, matches, dried food and bottle water. He dropped one of the paperback in front of her and sat on one of the gray chairs and opened the book.
But he could not focus. His eyes darted from the lady's face to the pages in front of him. He could see her face clearly now with the scarf pulled down. It was a small face, one that could belong to a child of ten. She picked up the book and flipped through the pages. She started to hum a tone that he knew very well - Clementine - one of Stella's favorite. The lady's violet eyes gleamed with tiny sparks as if delighted with everything she saw. The yellow lightbulb gave those eyes a greenish tint. Her lips were in a curvy half moon - an irresistible smile that gave him a shiver that was all too familiar. When her eyes met his, he quickly looked downward at her scarf. The yellow stars made him think of Stella. Stella - how he missed her.
Stella, his Stella, was not fond of wet weather and thunder always scared her. But she was always fond of stars and the color yellow. On her tenth birthday, he took knitting lessons from an almost-blind woman and made a white scarf with yellow stars for Stella. It was a work of knitted chaos but the stars were correctly shaped. Stella was so proud of it. She had kissed him on the cheek and told him it was the best birthday present that she had ever received. After that day, she never go anywhere without that scarf.
When he looked up, the lady was still watching him. The paperback was set to the side. He did not like having the lady staring at him so he pulled another book from the shelf and placed it in front of her. He nodded his head and took up his book again. He shifted his body so as not to face her.
The walls started to shake. Muffled sounds of the outside seeped in in quiet rhythms. The lightbulb above swung back and forth creating spotty shadows with each movement. The lady let out a small cry. Her eyebrows knitted together with worry. Thunder quietly rumbled above them. She grabbed at his coat sleeve. He tried to assure her it was only thunder but she pulled at his sleeve harder. He told her they are safe and that there's nothing to worry about. He patted her hand which was surprisingly warm. Thunder struck again, echoing close. He tried to pull her hand off his sleeve but she would not let go. Her eyes were in a downward sorrow, like Stella's used to get whenever she heard thunder. "Stella," he whispered for the first time in almost ten months. He reached out an hand to touch her face. The thunder echoed above like explosions. He looked up at the ceiling and then at the lady. Tears began to stream down her face. She grabbed him and pulled him to the ground.
She covered him in white darkness beneath her coat. He heard a tearing sound similar to a roof being ripped away. He called to her to let him go but she would not release him from her grip. He felt a heavy weight keeping him down - soft but firm. He looked up but he could not see white anymore, only darkness. The noises drifted away and he was soon asleep in a monsoon-filled dream.
He woke to silence. Above him was the sky - a blue oasis. He was still in his basement but everything was gone - all the walls, the roof, the furniture. He was laying on dried ground with nothing surrounding him. On his neck was the scarf with the stars. He felt his face becoming wet and thought it was the rain but it was his own sorrow escaping for the first time.
So where's the R word for Alphabe-Thursday? It is Rain. I like Monsoon in the title rather than Rain. Though it means the same thing doesn't it?
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