RÀN: Chapter III
Sweat dripped down Chaudia’s face, almost matching the tears that blended and mixed in with them. Her destroyed, desperate sobbing drowned out any thoughts in Patrick’s mind. He almost cried with her, even as they dug a grave for nobody. He almost cried for her, seeing her suffering and grieving over nobody. But as he dug with her, shoveling load after load of dirt from the cold, barren Earth, it was hard to think much. Grass, roots, and weeds came up along with everything else.
Slowly, the hole began to deepen just enough to reach Patrick’s knees. They both stopped, satisfied with their labour, and enveloped with silence. Patrick looked up from the hole, into Chaudia’s eyes. Her wet, sad eyes. She looked back, after a moment. She dismissively nodded, looked away, and lifted her arms in the air– as if holding a child. But there was no child– there were only Chaudia’s arms, wet with sweat and littered with dirt. She lowered the air into the hole, and sat down. She stared out into space, watching somewhere Patrick couldn’t see.
Gently, the flower was placed in the center of the pit, and Patrick started shoveling the dirt they’d just dug up back to where it was. The amount they’d dug out was just below his knees, in the end. Just as he started on the pile of dirt, a drop of rain pecked his cheek.
Suddenly, the sharp squeal of a car slamming on the brakes was heard to their right. Immediately, Patrick saw who they were. Now he wanted to cry for another reason. Charlotte and Jean-Charles. On top of that, he realized, this probably looks wrong. He winced as another rain-drop hit his cheek. He tried to hide his face the best he could– looking down into the pit, acting consumed with his work. He shoveled and he shoveled, praying with every repetition that they’d leave.
And finally, after about 30 seconds, they left. He barely noticed the car go. At the end of the whole affair, he turned to see Chaudia, looking into the space he couldn’t, just like before.
«Oh, it looks like my parents are asleep.» Charlotte pulled Jean-Charles into their house.
«And it looks like I’m one lucky guy,» he retorted.
She took her shoes off, «I don’t know why you hate my dad so much…»
Him likewise, «It’s always so weird with him!»
He walked out of the modest entrance– a narrow, barren hallway with the front door on one end– toward the kitchen, right at thee other end. It was the core of the place, with each room visible from the centre of it. He looked over the granite counter-top to see that, indeed, her parents’ door was closed and, in fact, there was no light visible.
«If anything, he hates me!»
She followed him, «He’s just not a people-person. It takes him a while to warm up, you know?»
Off of a small dish in the centre isle of the kitchen, she grabbed an apple, «I’ve known him for my whole life, but still can barely tell if he likes me or not!»
She took a bite. «So stop complaining, Jean-Charles.»
He smirked, «Alright, I get it.»
She almost wanted to bring up what she saw– and ask about what he saw– but something stopped her. We’ve come this far, she thought, so why can’t I be more open about this?
Jean-Charles was looking down at the far-left counter-top, across from the isle Charlotte stood near. He leaned his weight on it with extended arms, and sighed.
«Do you want to see if anyone else is in town, Charlotte?»
She lowered the apple. Charlotte hadn’t expected him to bring up their high-school friends. He didn’t mention how he felt about being back, but she didn’t need to ask. She figured it was a little upsetting, but if he wanted to see Patrick and the others…
«Yea, I would.»
A smile, a bite, a sigh.
Chaudia sat next to Patrick in his car, parked silently. It had been nearly an hour since they last spoke, and since she started star-gazing to the sky with no stars. It seemed like, somehow, despite them moving across town, she had been staring at the same thing the whole time.
He didn’t know where Chaudia’s parents lived, so he let muscle memory dictate his destination. They were parked outside of his parent’s house.
He got out of the car, pelted by the now-pouring rain, and opened her car door. «Chaudia…»
Nothing– not that he expected anything, now.
He grabbed her by the shoulder, and guided her out into the pelting rain. Countless drops of water smacked against her, yet she barely even blinked. Patrick moved her in the general direction of his front door– urgingly but not roughly– and they went inside.
«It’s raining…» she said, perhaps instinctively. But her sudden refocusing proved it was anything but instinctive. Suddenly, she turned her head back and forth, as if she’d lost what she was watching and was trying to find it again.