The heavy moist droplets send a shiver down my spine, dampening immediately the absurdly large white shirt. She presses her cool face into my neck siphoning my warmth. Shoppers pause around us, assessing this distance and that. I grip her ever closer to me before stepping gingerly from the sidewalk. The battered car looms in the distance and a van that I judge as filled in equal parts children and regret slows to grant us passage.
The seal above breaks and steel gray cascades down as a sheet in front of us, shielding us from the world.
The keys slip first.
Its fierce landing crumbles the ground beneath us as my dangling lace is caught.
The distance from heaven to earth is eternal.
My body twists on its own, my back poised to meet the ground wholly, and for a moment our eyes lock.
The flash of imminent nothing is nothing and everything.
Nothing like what they say. Everything like what they say.
In ten years you’ll bring a boy home. Or a girl. It won’t matter. I will hate them equally.
The way their hairs stick up unnaturally. The way their smiles seem false. The way they chew gum. The way they breathe.
In fifteen years you’ll press your face into my neck and your body will wrack with sobs mourning your failure the first of many and I will feel guilty because it’s out of my hands and I’ll hate that too.
I’ll try to control your money and you’ll ignore me. I’ll hover as you sign a check grumbling that they’re obsolete and I’ll make you pay for your own books. My stomach will curl at this; it’s good for you but for a while it will be bad for us.
Sometime you will yell at me that I’m ruining your life and that I am the worst ever and you’ll probably be right.
You’ll call yourself a daddy’s girl and dance with him at your wedding and I’ll swallow hard and pretend that I didn’t mind that you weren’t a mamas girl and that it wasn’t a competition.
In sixty years I’ll begin to forget things and you’ll start to infantilize me and I’ll hate that until I forget what I’m hating.
In the now my body collides with the ground with her tucked in my arms, the bags split open and forgotten. A sharp pain shoots through my spine and she lays over me, her enormous eyes even larger with fear. Her small fingers press into my cheeks and I am struck by how tiny they are, how they cannot yet lace comfortably with mine.
How the rain that is warm and thick for me is oppressive to her.
How large the droplets are as they cling to the fringe of her lashes.
I’ll talk to you about sex and love and hate and money and death.
I’ll teach you about how wonderful and mysterious rain can be.
But first we’ll learn to tie our shoes.