20,056 / 50,000
I figured that was highly unlikely, but better safe than sorry. Especially where dead bodies are concerned.
About halfway home, I had to stop and pull over. It was near where the construction was earlier that day. I folded my arms across the top of my steering wheel, and laid my forehead down on top of that, and just let everything out. I shuddered and cried, just letting all the emotions wash over me, going where they would.
Heather was gone, and it was my fault. Because she had known me, because she was my best friend, this dark phantasm had singled her out, this shadowy double had taken her from the world. All because of me.
If she had never met me, if we had never met in college, if we had never started working at the library, maybe she would still be here. All those days spent wandering the stacks of the library. All those nights in college rehearsing plays, wreaking chaos backstage, building sets, making costumes, even running the lights when we were short handed on a production of Midsummer Night's Dream, gone. All gone. Turned to dust, and meaningless.
No, not meaningless. She had touched my life, and many others. Our lives were made all the better because she was in it, and her loss would be mourned. It would drive me forward, and I would not let this creature defeat me, and I would do everything within my power to protect the rest of my friends.
If my doppleganger thought this would rattle me, thought it would shake me down to my core, and make me sloppy, or just lay down and give up. If that is what my dark double thought it was doing, then maybe this thing didn't know me as well as it had thought.
Even more hope. It was fallable, it could be wrong, and it didn't know everything about me. I could use that against it.
I didn't fall, I didn't shake, I didn't break. Whatever doesn't kill me, only makes me stronger. All the doppleganger had accomplished was to anger me, harden my heart, and focus my will against it. My resolve was stronger now after what it had done.
Moments of sadness had passed over me, and I was in the midst of one now. I wasn't unfeeling. I still cared. But those moments wouldn't stop me. Other people crumbled in despair. Turned inwards and curled into little balls, for weeks at a time, unable to move or continue on with their lives when everything fell around them.
I took a deep breath, and wiped at my eyes and cheeks. I flipped down the sunvisor and looked in the mirror there. My eyes were bloodshot and puffy, and my cheeks had gone red and raw, and my nose was well on it's way to matching. It almost hid some of the freckles sprinkling my face, but their colour was just such that they remained sticking out, even amongst an increased amount of redness.
Looking in the mirror, I thought it looked like I had been drinking, and that brought a chuckle to sputter out of my mouth, coming out as some weird hybrid between a laugh and a sob, and my whole body shook when I did. I wiped my cheeks again, a smile on my lips, barely finding its way to the surface, laughing inwardly at the Irish girl looking like a hopeless lush. My family hated it when I made fun of our heritage, not thinking I was proud of it, but I always said that if you're proud of your heritage, that's when you have to joke about it. Take the bad with the good.
The sky opened up, and I first heard a few little taps on the roof of my car, knowing it was coming. The sparse sound slowly grew to a crescendo, picking up speed, faster and faster, until it poured down from the sky, the clouds crying their own tears, in memory of Heather, and washing away the pain in the world. The drops were small at first, smattering my windsheild with little balls of water, that quickly grew into larger blobs, and as the sky opened up and dumped water down upon the city, it flowed down the window, as if someone had turned a faucet on in the clouds, and it ran like the car had been submerged in a fast-moving river.
I opened the car door, and stepped out into the downpour. If the sky wished to rain down and wash away the dark day, it could cleanse me as well.
Some people use the phrase raining cats and dogs, and this storm was like someone had opened up all the kennels in town, and everywhere you looked, you'd step in a poodle.
The drenching rain felt good. I'd always enjoyed the rain, ever since I was a little girl. Feeling it fall over me. Nature's shower, minus the soap. Tonight's rainfall was rather cold, not unexpected for late October, and Halloween around the corner, but it still felt good. Those cold little drops, falling on my face, and straightening out even my quite curly hair.
I was soaked instantly when I stepped out into the rain, it was coming down so hard. All I could hear was the solid roar of it falling and hitting everything, the metal rooves of the buildings, the construction vehicles, the road - both finished and under construction - and the world almost seemed to fade away in the relative darkness. There were still streetlights peppered here and there all along the sides of the road, but they were few and far between in this area, leaving larger than normal gaps between them, some even having been uprooted from their concrete prisons for the construction project. And for Boston, this was considered dark.
Reaching up, I brushed wet, matted down hair from my face as best I could, and felt it hanging down my back, and becoming heavy in from getting so wet, and only getting wetter. I took a deep breath of the cool air, and I definitely felt calmer. It was like I had picked up Jay's calmness which had fluttered away from him, and found its way to me.
The sky above was ripped open with a bolt of lightning. It arced through the sky, leaping from cloud to cloud, and it looked like it went from one horizon to the other. It tore a long, purple streak through the air, splitting and remerging with itself several times as it moved through the air, until the sonic boom of thunder burst into the air, drowning out even the sound of the rain falling over everything.
The thunder rumbled for nearly thirty seconds, rolling up and down in volume, and several loud cracks punctuating the grinding thrum of the sound. When it was over, the sound of the rain took its time returning, as the thunder had drowned out everything in my head, temporarily deafening me, as my ears adjusted to the lack of sound coming from the sky.
Rainfall's pitter patter slowly reentered my ears, and quickly returned to its old levels. I rubbed my ears as best I could through the sopping mop of hair stuck to any inch of skin it could find on my head, and the continued water that only made me wetter. I used to believe that you could only get so wet in the rain, and then you were just wet, and that was it. I had that illusion shattered for me years ago, and this just confirmed it.
My clothes, especially the trenchcoat, just became heavier and heavier, as the rain added layer upon layer of wetness to everything about me. The coat was waterproof, but even that wasn't enough to stop this downpour. It wasn't just finding ways around the jacket, usually most notably sneaking in around the neck, or around my legs poking out from the bottom of it, but it was soaking straight through the jacket itself.
I found myself wondering if I could get my money back on the waterproofing.
Having more than enjoyed the rainfall, and deciding that I had spent more than enough time, I made my way back into the car before the water could seep past the jacket any further.
Once I had returned to the dry safe haven of my Escort, I took the time to wriggle my way out of the coat, which must have weighed an additional twenty pounds because of the water alone. Doing so only got me wetter, at least the few parts of me that had remained somewhat dry underneath the coat before the water started getting through, and it hurt to hold it up as I tried to throw it in the back seat.
Attempts to move it to the back were failing miserably, and just throwing more water around the car, almost running off the coat in a river as it was, and so I opted to just drop it on the passenger's side seat in the front. It landed in a wet, grey pile, and caused the care to shudder from the sudden weight being dropped free. It made a sound not unlike a plunger, but not entirely the same either. A wet, slurping sound, of something slimy being pulled out of a hole, of a soaked towel being thrown across at a wall.
A puddle spread out from the drenched pile of black fabric, made all the blacker by the water covering it, and it darkened the already dark maroon fabric of my car's interior, spreading out as more water drained from the coat into the seat. That only served to remind me of Heather's passing, looking almost exactly the shade of her blood, pooling out on the bathroom floor.
My resolve grew, as I sat there in my car, listening to the patter of the rain on my roof, finally letting up, and the wash of water flowing down the window slowed, and became it's usual slow flow as water drops merged and succumbed to gravity.
I glanced at the clock in the car as I turned the keys in the ignition, my car shuddering to life with the low growl of it's engine, nowhere near the sound of the '57 Chevy of my stalker. I'd sat here, and run around outside in the rain for almost 45 minutes. Probably most of that time had been spent on my good cry and release, but time could get funny while you were in grief. I could have been standing out in the monsoon for 40 minutes, and only cried for two.
I looked again down at the clock as I drove off, my tires having trouble finding purchase in the wet road, covered in gravel and crap flung into the air from construction. I hoped Jay hadn't been one of the many cars that had driven past me while I was lost in my reverie and rain dance. He might have spotted me if he had, but I doubt it, since he hadn't stopped. If he had driven by, it was likely because he was as frazzled and at wit's end as I was right now.
My car slipped easily between two cars and merged with the flow of traffic, headlights shattering into hundreds of shards in the still heavy, but nowhere near what it was, rainfall. The shudder-squeak of my windsheild wipers was the only noise that I could hear as I drove the rest of the way back to my apartment to await Jason's arrival.
Thinking back on the day as I drove, I found myself surprised that my shadow had not made any further appearances since I had left the Dunkin' Doughnuts. Was it too dark for it? A creature of darkness you would suspect would more enjoy playing in the dark, making more appearances, but I had my suspicions that it had not made any appearances since they just wouldn't be very effective now.
In the darkness, everything was shadow, so we were on equal footing, and it would just be another silhouette with a voice, amongst the entire world of them.