Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Vignette

Opening sequence for a story I was planning, but have shelved for the moment.

The unseasonal December rain came pouring in torrents, splattering the windshield of our taxi with a steady steam that came so fast and thick it seemed we had entered a waterfall. There, too, was that endless drumming of the water on the hood of the car and on the roof, with intervals between beats so short as to coalesce into one low roar. The only respite from this monotony was the occasional strong gust of wind that came howling between buildings, driving the water up and down and about in crazy waves all around our windows. Behind us and in front of us blared the muffled cacophony of horns played by drivers impatient to head home and escape from the storm.

A solitary drop penetrated the rubber lining of my side of the window, penetrating the sleeve of my shirt. It was followed by another, and another, and still another until the wet spot grew to a large circle around my forearm.

"Damn it," I muttered, but no one seemed to have heard. Not Jenny, who was intently studying the pattern of water on the window and the handkerchief in her hands and the sleeve of her jacket and the strap of her handbag and the driver's nape. And not the driver, either, whose tapping fingers on the steeering wheel kept time with the beat of the rain outside, and who kept his eyes on the car in front of him waiting for the break in the gridlock that would soon get us moving. "Damn it," I said again, and dabbed the forming droplets away with my handkerchief.

I glanced at my watch for what must have been the hundredth time within the past hour. Now it said 8:30. "Hey, driver, station still far? We'll miss our flight, you know."

"Jam, ah," the driver said with a shrug and a general wave of his hand. He did not even bother to look at me. "Signal 8, everyone hurry to go home."

I sighed and slumped back into my chair and crossed my arms. From the corner of my eye, I thought I saw Jenny shoot me a look. But then she was back to studying her handbag and the window and her shoes. I let my hand drop in the space between us, but even after a long while, it still came up empty.