EDIT: Apparently only the first third of the story came through when this was posted earlier this morning. I apologize. Here is the full story.
At first, I wasn’t sure of what she had said.
It’s not that I didn’t understand the words she spoke, or that I hadn’t been paying enough attention to our conversation in the backseat of that taxi. It’s possible that I was preoccupied with the way the rain had slicked her hair down against her forehead, or how her lips trembled from the chill. Despite those things, the only thing in the world as I knew it back then worth paying attention to was sitting right next to me.
There was fragility in the air that day. The rain made the city glisten as it always had, but as the streetlamps came on, everything took on a layer of unexpected dark. We ran between the raindrops to catch a cab, hands clasped tight. I remember silently cursing a puddle that splashed up the back of my leg before her lilting voice imploring me to run faster made me forget all about it. We fell into the backseat of that cab, out of breath and soaking wet, but the happiest we were ever allowed to be.
She gave the driver our destination. Her apartment was close enough to walk to, but distances to be traveled on foot always seem to increase in bad weather. We pulled away from the curb and into traffic, and she turned to look out the window. The winking red of the brake lights from the other cars lit up the streaks of rain on the glass. She didn’t speak at first, leaving me to stare shamelessly at her. When at last she turned away from the window, she picked up the conversation we had abandoned when we walked out into the rain. I don’t remember just what made her laugh, but I remember it now in slow motion… The way her hair fell as she leaned back, the way the passing headlights caught the water still clinging from her eyelashes, the way the sound of her set my mind on fire. The slow motion continues as her smile fades away into an expression that haunts me still… her perpetual sadness.
She speaks now.
I hear the words, and suddenly I am at the end of a long tunnel. All sounds come to me from far away, save for my heart, beating heavy in my ears in time with the taxi’s wiper blades. She speaks again, but I cannot respond. I want desperately to tell her how intensely happy her words made me feel, but I am out of breath, and my expression seems to lend otherwise. The taxi stops.
Her face is broken by tears. I reach out to hold her hand; she pulls away. I finally manage a response, but the damage had been done… irrevocably so. She stepped out of the cab and into the rain, and is gone.
I searched for her that night, until my strength left me.
I never saw her again, after the night she told me she was pregnant.