The humidity pressed against the sleeves of her sweatshirt and onto her dark melanin skin as she stepped outside one summer evening as part of the world was getting ready to fall asleep. The neighborhood was melancholy, the street lights flickered with each dying breath and the branches on the trees hovered over the sidewalk, the weight of the rain upon them. The sticky rain clung onto every part of her exposed body, reminding her of the parts she didn’t cover up. It was a no-brainer that if she wore more than what she covered she would feel uncomfortable; it was summer after all. Yet she couldn’t help but feel the aprehensivness she stared at her thicker thighs, wanting nothing more than to leave the porch to wear her sweatpants and grab her oversized hoodie.
Her boyfriend came back from his car with a blue and white striped umbrella, big enough to fit the two of them underneath. “So that we don’t get soaked!” He said jokingly, noticing the sudden shift in her brown, bright, caramel eyes. He wanted nothing more but to make her smile. Her smile lights up a room and reassures him that she is okay. She grinned slightly but quickly detached herself. She felt numb as she felt the sudden concerned glance by her boyfriend. She wished that he would stop looking at her like that. Like she was a lost puppy that needed saving. Not when she already knew that deep down within herself. “Let’s go?” He asked softly. She nodded as she led the way for the two of them.
She has never liked the rain. The rain was associated with memories that came intermittently, haunting her in the middle of the night. It reminded her of past failed relationships, non consensual touching along her upper thick thigh. Snippets of the reel popped up in her mind as they continued on their walk. She anxiously stared at her lower body, hoping that he wouldn’t pay attention to the size of her thighs clapping onto another. It was during their walk that she wanted to erase her thighs. She wanted to take away the fat, the stretch marks, and the scars from years of playing. She craved the slim, long thighs that were seen in her magazines and social media. Thighs that made long strides and let her run faster than all the boys. Thighs that could let her escape from the rain and the memories. She was dissatisfied with her short, stubby thighs. Thighs that let boys’ hands run all over it. Thighs that gave her only a worm’s eye view. She let go of her boyfriend’s hand, feeling the boiling rage of her own insecurities and frustration at the rain. Rain was ubiquitous;a way of cleansing parts the world. So why is it that it has only let her feel cynical and not new?
Her boyfriend, standing beside her, moved directly in front of her, noticing the tears cascading down her smooth, flushed cheeks. He very carefully put his arms around her, steadying her as her body began shaking in a panic. His right hand stroked the back of her black and brown hair, giving comfort as she began to breathe even faster. “Hey, I’m right here.” He whispered in her ear. “It’ll be alright. Let’s play the 54321 game? Give me 5 things that you can see.”
She pushed him back slightly to observe the area around her. The world appeared blurry in the pool of tears swimming around her eyes. She looked down as her hands were trembling as he slipped his right hand onto hers for reassurance. She took big, deep breaths, and started listing out the five things she could see.
“I see you, the trees, the leaves…” She hesitated, her panic trying to fight her way to the forefront of her mind, blocking out what she’s trying to focus on. He gave her hand a squeeze and they looked at each other. He wanted nothing more than to support her so he said, “You got this…two more.”
“I see my car and a squirrel running across the street.” She laughed slightly. You can do this she thought in her head.
“4 things you can hear”
“Cars, your voice, the sound of the rain…” She winced and her breathing picked up a rapid steady beat again. She let go of his hands as she plugged her ears and shut her eyes onto a crouch position. This was the sound that was in the background of all her memories. The sound that gave her nothing but fear that something bad was going to happen. It was the sound that gave her loss, grief, and why she can’t have a nice walk with her boyfriend that night. She was lost in her own position that she didn’t notice that he too was right down besides her, taking away the umbrella. She jolted up, feeling the small water drops seep into her sweatshirt and slide down her body. He stood up as well, sweeped the hairs that covered her face, touched her cheeks, and kissed her forehead gently. He then, to her surprise, took his right hand onto the back of her waist and took his left hand and clasped it onto her right hand. She quickly followed as the follower, putting her left hand onto his right shoulder blade. He grinned at her and for the first time in a very long time, she laughed genuinely. “You ready?” She nodded her head and they danced.
They waltzed—poorly but still in beat—never losing eye contact with one another. Their bodies rhythmically followed each other as he led them around the front yard and sometimes onto the street, to which she scolded him for. Every movement felt whimsical. She let the rain pour onto her hair and her body, feeling each droplet like a reset of her heart. She let herself free, never apologizing for her boisterous laugh and loud, exuberant voice. He smiled at her, appreciating her ability to be resilient when moments ago she was fighting a battle that was just her own.
Eventually, the rain was too much and they ran hand in hand onto the porch, laughing the entire way there. They stood in front of each other as he took his hand onto hers making small talk about how soaked they were and how wet their hair was. They didn’t mind however and let themselves soak.
“Whatever happened back there…” He said. “You never have to tell me what happened or why the rain caused you this much heartbreak, I just hoped that helped change things.” He said softly. “I just wanted to change that perspective; that rain is meant to heal you.”
She felt the weight and the burden of her body lift as she looked deeply into his eyes. She studied the scar above his right eyebrow, his long nose, his tan, hollow cheeks. Is this what healing is? She asked herself. Recognizing the problem and letting someone in to help? She’s always kept things guarded to herself, never wanting anyone in on her traumas. Is this what love is? She questioned. Love that helps her heal and makes her see things in a different light? Is love just supporting one another despite our flaws? She ignored the questions circling around her brain, knowing that she will never be fully capable of answering that question just yet.
“Thank you.” She uttered out loud. He took her right hand and kissed it.
“Now let’s go inside…I’m getting really cold and we might get pneumonia. And your mom has really good food in the kitchen.” He said as he smirked at her. She punched his shoulder and he yelped in surprise.
“What was that for?” He said, making a pouty face.
“Nothing.” She smiled. “Nothing at all”
She led the way into the house, taking her hand onto his as they walked inside, closing the door to the melancholy neighborhood. Outside, the wind picked up speed as the green leaves fell swiftly into the sidewalk. The cool water droplets bounced off the trees and into the crevices of the dingy sidewalk. The sound of cars in the faint background as they speed on by, each person with their own battles and traumas. While she wasn’t completely over what happened to her, it was through the waltz and the healing rain in which she didn’t mind it anymore. It was just the sounds of another summer night, and she’ll be alright.