The day was still young, the sun still low, peeking over the horizon, undarkening the clouds over the city that had gathered during the night like fluffy sheep in a pen. Cars with purpose and headlights haloing the streets streaked the wet asphalt, glittering the falling raindrops the instant they exploded. Men in raincoats and hats waited for the bus under the tall shadow of a bank building, their stark forms dark in the dull grey light. One of them lit a cigarette, fighting the moisture all around, adding to the grey with his smoky breath.
The bus came, a silent denizen of the city, and swallowed the men into its lit belly and they were soon seated. All but the smoker who remained standing alone on the sidewalk. Once the bus had slid past, its water splash train abated, the man took a last puff of the cigarette then threw it in the gutter. Tilting his head up, he let the drops sprinkle his chin, his lips, the tip of his tongue, suddenly chill from the cold air.
Alone for a moment he let his mind drift to recall memories that pooled tears in his eyes. His jealousy once more flared and clenched his fists, streaked his jaws. The tears fell and the pain welled and his breath drew short and for an instant he would have screamed, save for another figure approaching. The pants and the shoes walked topped by a solid coat of black wool. A voice within said: "Good morning."
And the pain receded and grew cold and dim, sharp still, like the ding of a bell, or the clang of a hammer, and the man returned his fists, now unclenched, to the pockets of his coat, and slowly let his breath catch up, and watched one more time the shape of her face fade into the rain all around, each drop echoing her name in the immensity of the storm.
And the next bus came, and this time Mr. Ishi was on board, and the raindrops touched him no longer.
When he reached the office, at 7:04, umbrellas on a rack greeted him in their black and white sameness. In the reception hall, Miss Eaton stood from behind her desk, and bowed impeccably as she did every morning. She wore a white suit, a bit old-fashioned for one so young, and matching white sandals.
He turned to face her and bowed in turn, bending his body. He was grateful for her hard work. She was always on time, always cheerful, always welcoming. He knew it was not always easy to pretend. He was glad she had stayed at his company for these many years.
She was upright when he lifted his head. He knew that she knew not all was well. Her smile did not waver. She simply said: "I will make your favorite tea, Mr. Ishi."
He could not speak, but walked to his office, determined to work hard and live up to the expectations of his staff.
October 12, 2015. I was listening to a 2005 X-Japan concert on youtube when I wrote this.
© 2015 Christopher Mahan
Briana Mae Morgan wrote "Love the sensory details in this one. Excellent work, Chris!" when I have comments enabled.