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The Day The Rain Stopped
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The Day The Rain Stopped
A story about death and friendship.
Jeremy Lee Henderson
Jeremy Lee Henderson is over a quarter of a century old. He was born in South Korea, but speaks no Korean except for a handful of obscene phrases and the first verse of "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star."
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|AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (2)
Insomnia (Short Stories) Where do writers get their ideas? Sometimes it's best you don't ask... [597 words] [Horror]
Thoughts On The Dawn After A Starry Night (Short Stories) A bad breakup, two days with no sleep and a 4 hour cram session for an art history exam went into this one. [563 words] [Mind]
The Day The Rain Stopped
Jeremy Lee Henderson
Thinking back, it’s easy to believe that it rained every day of that summer. My only memories, up until the moment of my brother’s death, are of staring out of my bedroom window at skies the color of old bruises, feeling the dull vibration of thunder in the windowsill, imagining what it would feel like to be struck by lightning.
And on the last week of summer, walking home in the rain, I saw the gathering crowd in front of my house, my mother and father clutching each other on the porch as white uniformed paramedics loaded a form beneath a sheet into the back of their ambulance, and heard, on the lips of every person in the crowd, a single word: suicide.
So I listened, waiting for the thunder that always followed the lightning, because I knew I had finally been struck, could feel the heat that lifted my feet from the ground, the silver light bursting behind my eyes.
When I recovered, a few moments later, I discovered that I’d merely fainted. I was helped into my house, where my mother held my hand and told me over and over that everything would be okay.
The night before the funeral, it stopped raining.
So the family gathered beneath cloudless skies to bid farewell to Robert. And we listened to a minister ask a God my older brother had forsaken years ago to forgive his sins, and welcome his troubled soul into Heaven.
And after Robert was in the ground, and everyone began to file away, I stayed behind, to spend a few last moments alone, saying goodbye.
“What did the minister say?”
The voice came from behind me. I turned, and standing a few yards away was a man dressed entirely in black. The sun, for the first time in weeks, burned bright and hot, but he wore a heavy trenchcoat, and his hands were thrust deep into his pockets, as if he were cold. His long hair hung down over his eyes. He walked up beside me, looked down into the grave.
At first I was frightened: the stranger was huge, almost a foot taller than me and well over twice my weight, and the coat made him seem somehow inhuman, less a person than a moving mass of darkness.
“Did he say that Robert’s gone to a better place, or that he’s going to burn forever in Hell?”
He spoke quietly, in a voice utterly devoid of inflection or emotion. Beneath his left eye was a scar, about an inch long. I didn’t want to think what act of violence had left it on his face.
“He...” My voice dried up in my throat. I could only whisper. “He said...a better place.”
The stranger turned to look at me, and in that instant my fear vanished. His eyes were sad and tired. He appeared not to have slept in days. A faint smile touched his lips. The monster which had stood there a second earlier was replaced by just another weary mourner at my brother’s funeral.
I nodded, the name familiar to me. Leo, my brother’s invisible best friend. Suddenly I recognized the voice, from the many times he’d called. “Is Robert there? Tell him Leo called.”
I’d heard that voice say those words innumerable times, and never thought much about the speaker. Now he stood beside me, staring vaguely up at the blue sky that had been hidden from our sight for so long.
He nodded. “He’s told me a lot about you.” He continued to stare at the sky, then sighed, laughed quietly. “It’s a beautiful day.”
“Yes, it is,” I said. Tears suddenly blurred my vision. I turned away from the grave, for some reason not wanting Leo to see me cry.
“The irony would have driven him insane. Black skies and lightning, it’s what he would have preferred.”
Dimly, I heard thunder. I looked up, expecting to see the sky boiling with clouds, but still the morning was bright and blue. I looked back at Leo. His shoulders shook, ever so slightly. A tear crossed his scar, and he wiped it away absently.
“I didn’t see you during the funeral. Where were you?”
He breathed deep, looked out across the rows of gravestones. In the distance a marble angel spread its wings above a concrete pedestal. “I was...around. I have a couple of friends here.” He laughed softly, thrust his hands back into his pockets. “Gone to a better place,” he said, looking down into the grave. “We can always hope.”
He turned away, started to walk down the path, trailing his fingers along the tops of gravestones as he went. I looked down into my brother’s grave, at the gunmetal gray of his casket, reflecting back a perfect summer sky. When I looked back up, Leo was gone. I never saw him again.
|READER'S REVIEWS (7)
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""The Day The Rain Stopped" is a practically haunting piece about death, and how to a degree, it excites a community, More importantly, the story examines how an unexplained death impacts two people (so to speak), who are directly linked." -- Loren Di Iorio, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
"I enjoyed this piece enormously. I thought it was outstandingly well-written, intense, highly atmospheric, powerful and direct, while remaining both economical and unpretentious in its language. I have seen greatly inferior pieces of writing take major prizes in competitions. The author has a rare gift, that of understatement. He says just enough to get the reader's imagination engaged but not enough to stifle it. There is an open-ended and universal quality to the writing that is characteristic of a major talent. " -- David Gardiner, London, England.
"Absolutely Awesome! Makes me want to trash everything I have ever written!!!" -- Monte, USA.
"Wonderful piece. I was completely hooked. :)" -- Christina, USA.
"Again, I am not a literary critic. I like this very much. It is very gripping. This writer has an enormous amount of talent. Think I wlll read more. " -- Miss Jackie, Milwaukee, Wi, USA.
"That first para is one of the best I've read in a long time, it waffled on about the weather and said nothing and yet managed to instantly make you aware of the sinister lilt to the story and pull you in. Fantastic, beautifully written and told in a story-tellers' 'voice' " -- Sooz, Dalton, Cumbria, England.
"Unbearably poignant without saccharin sweetness ... I lost my dearest friend to suicide last year ... this could have been his epitaph ... your talent is enormous." -- Judith Goff.
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© 2001 Jeremy Lee Henderson
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