The rain started with a single drop. Big and fat, it splattered on my arm and rebounded into the air, forming a transient crown.
I saw the crown form and then collapse in slow motion. A memory stirred, vague and barely piercing my consciousness, of once before experiencing time passing in slow motion—during an accident. During the accident. During the accident that killed Jenny.
The vague, barely conscious memory drove me further into the dark night of the soul. Not that I understood that at the time.
At the time, I just sat.
A full minute or more passed before the next few drops fell. Two or three. Then another pause. Then more drops, maybe five or six. I suppose the cycle continued. It seems like it would have. Ever shorter pauses; ever more rain drops. I don’t really know.
I do know there was some part of me—some tiny part—that eventually realized that I was sitting on the back porch in the first early afternoon rain storm of the season.
And that tiny part caught hold of the word “season.” Was that tiny part my best friend or my worst enemy? The rest of me was . . . well, I don’t know. Numb? Catatonic? Dead? But that tiny part, that part that at first couldn’t even muster up a voice in my head, that part that at first could only register at a subconscious level; slowly, slowly exerted itself. And it made me remember, but remember what I wanted to forget.
At some point I realized—or at least I think I realized; maybe my subconscious has just reconstructed the most likely scenario—that I was soaked to the skin. How long had I sat there? I still don’t know. I think once or twice I realized I was shaking. But most of that time, that indeterminate time, I vacillated between long periods of oblivion and short periods when my best friend or worst enemy was in control.
“Season”? Yes, my season had changed, too. This was the season without Jenny. How long or short had that season already been? Days? Weeks? Months? Years? My best friend or worst enemy, my remember-er, didn’t tell me; although I know now, of course.
I can’t say that I roused myself, but I must have acted on the occasional realization that I was soaked and shaking. I walked into the house. I stripped out of my wet clothes and got in the shower. Maybe I craved cleansing. Here, the pelting water was hot.
But soon it was cold again—it must have been. I suppose I noticed; I know I got out.
The next thing I knew—literally, with no recollection of getting dressed or of leaving the house or of starting the car or of driving—I was in the church parking lot.
Mechanically, I turned off the windshield wipers and the engine. I sat for a while, I think.
All that registered on my mind as I approached the pastor’s office was the squishing of each wet footstep.
Maybe I sighed as I stepped into the open doorway. Anyway, he looked up.
I remember him seeming completely nonchalant. He tells me he wasn’t.
“Jim, it’s good to see you.”
I’m sure I didn’t reply.
He rose, came out from behind his desk, circled behind me, and with one hand on my arm and one on my opposite shoulder, walked me slowly over to a chair. He pulled another chair up next to mine. “Jim, how can I help?”
Slowly lifting my head, I met his gaze. “Pastor, I was driving the car.”
“I know, Jim. I know.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
“I’ve been hoping you would come. It’s time to start a new season.”
“Yes, Jim, you can.”
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