Return of the Storm
I met you at the door where you stood in the rain, crying and wringing your trembling hands. Your long, curly hair was gnarled to your face and shoulders in slick ropes. You were shivering in a green evening dress with a wilted corsage pinned above your heart. I said simply, “come in” and you collapsed through the entry and into my arms.
We sat on my worn leather sofa after I'd made some tea, you toweling your hair and me silent, glancing at you and then away, momentarily seeking to comfort and then withdrawing, fearing I would say too much, too little, or just enough to make the tears come faster.
I'd seen you strong so many times, spitting in the face of Man and his wiles, a young tough she-lion savvy in the ways of love and irrepressibly alive. I knew you as nothing other than a Roman Diana, or perhaps an Artemis with a bow strung for wandering heartbreakers. Now you were small, and scared, and I was in a position to do great harm or a little good. I envied your tears from the angle of the man who caused them, but I stayed silent, impassive, and saintly.
I glanced at the bookshelf by the door and saw my collar resting there atop a slim volume of Anatole France. I kept my eyes fixed on your pain and away from your chest, heaving with each renewed torrent as you poured out your sorrows into the well of my resignation. Pressed down, running over your sadness brought a soft glow to an otherwise dismal chamber, and as your hair dried your sobs became whimpers and then girlish laughter burst forth like the sun.
I loaned you a copy of something or other from the vestry. As I saw you to the door with your book tucked to your breast you glanced round my humble rooms enquiringly. You smiled at a photo of me as a young curate as the last shudder of sadness passed through you, terminating in a sigh. Without a word, you unpinned the ragged corsage from your dress and placed it on the small table by the door. We said goodnight in the humid aftermath of the rainstorm, and your lights disappeared down the drive as I shut out the night.
After an interminable bout with self-denial I rose your gift to my face and breathed deeply. The musky scent of rain intermingled with your perfume and the delicate odor of orphaned flora. A thousand desires uninhibited passed the windows of my soul. I stood on the threshold of mortality for an exquisite span of seconds before relinquishing my sin to the wastebasket and returning to my study. A sleepless night began, and the rumble of thunder announced the return of the storm.