Adam stood separate from the others who huddled like a rookery of penguins in their funeral best, as if the frigid downpour were acid and only the rainbow of mismatched umbrellas could save them. He smiled at the contrast of clothing versus accessories—one solemnly selected and the other haphazardly pulled from a closet or vehicle trunk in desperation.
Evie would approve, especially of the one sporting her alma-mater.
He refused to hide and welcomed the November rain, its ice pelting his face, sneaking beneath his collar, the cold already caressing the skin beneath his suit. It simultaneously invigorated and numbed him, reminding him how little time remained.
The preacher’s voice was hoarse and the herd leaned into him, straining to hear from under their sheltered cocoon. Adam ignored the words, focusing on the tall man in front and the deceptive mask of grief covering the man’s face—the perfect picture of a distraught father—hiding the mean drunk who’d been driving that night.
The mourners had no idea, or if they did, they pretended to believe the lie to cleanse their souls of any guilt.
The sky cried harder and the crowd squeezed the air from their ranks, tightening, as the preacher’s lips sped up, racing to the finish line.
Adam waited, patient, his face now tipped to the sky, savoring the beating from above.
How many times had Evie grabbed his hand, pulling him from warm safety into the storm, dancing around him until he surrendered and joined her?
“It won’t last forever, Adam. Live a little.”
People scattered, cockroaches seeking haven from the deluge, the normal teary good-byes and etiquette abandoned. None glanced his way or acknowledged his presence, as if the rain cloaked him from view.
Adam walked to the casket, the saturated ground warning him away by pulling each step deep into its embrace. His focus was so strong he almost bumped into the figure leaning against the carved wood.
A white grin flashed upon the stranger’s face even as the rest of him faded to shadow, like a human Cheshire cat. “You’re here. I must say I am surprised. Most try to avoid paying their debts.”
“I am a man of my word, if you keep your end of the bargain.”
The stranger cackled. “An hour with your beloved in exchange for your life. As agreed.” He waved his hand, parting the rain, carving a dry space as the sealed coffin sprung open. He reached inside, placing his hand over Evie’s heart and mumbling an incantation before whirling back to Adam. “Sixty minutes, lover boy. Tick tock.” The man walked into the opaque rain curtain and disappeared.
“Adam? What’s going on?” She rose from satin lining, confusion and fear lacing every syllable.
Adam smiled and held out his hand. “Nothing lasts forever, even cold November rain.” She laughed, the magic words erasing her fear, her hand grasping his as she climbed out—fire to his ice. “Dance with me, Evie.”
I tried to write out of my comfort zone this week. What worked? What didn’t?
Concrit always welcomed.