Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: Music (03/08/07)
TITLE: Rhythms of the Rain
By April Bailey
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Before, when Jess and Pablo fought, Rene would go to his room, hold tight his headphones, and hide amidst the lyrics of his favorite band, while his sisters did the same further down the hall. But still, sometimes, he heard things. Horrible things. From the mouths of his mother and father came lies, curses or terrible truths about each other, their lives and their children, yelled out in anger like guided missiles. Until one day, despite a wicked-loud guitar solo blasting in his ears, Rene heard four words that changed his life.
“Rene isn’t even yours!” his mother screamed, wounding husband and son in one blow.
Jess felt little regret for breaking Pablo’s heart that afternoon. He was a stubborn, selfish man and, in her mind, she’d won this round. Rene’s dad disappeared for a week after their argument, and didn’t look at his only son quite the same way when he returned. Jess had never given a thought about Rene in the matter, and he dared not ask her, in case it was true. He simply pretended he hadn’t heard.
But ever since that day, Rene left the house when tempers flared. And a little rain was no deterrent to escape. In fact, he welcomed it. The cool drops felt nice on his head and face, and upon the soaking of his clothes, he held out his hands, inviting further cleansing from the sky. He walked slowly around the block, often pausing to listen to the rhythmic beating of raindrops pouring down on the ground, spilling onto cars, trickling through tree leaves, dripping off roofs, and washing down gutters. Despite the refreshing water, hateful thoughts sought an opening, intending to harden his heart to love and marriage, but he resisted, letting them slide off in nature’s bath. Like music, the heavenly shower became a symphony, flowing over him, strolling with him, and finally accompanying him back to his parent’s house.
But their conflict continued, sending Rene once again to the sidewalk to sit on the curb beneath the dripping clouds. He smiled, however, letting the rhythms of the rain play on his forehead and cheeks before racing down his chilled body. The joy of it deafened him—to the shouting inside, to the screeching SUV whose drive had lost control, hydroplaned and jumped the curb. For an instant, the music stopped.
When Rene opened his eyes, Jess and Pablo were kneeling on either side of him, wet from the storm, choked to silence by fear that contorted their faces. Jess sobbed quietly, but the rain stole her tears and swept them into the street beside her fallen son. Rene’s hand had been propped up and rested in Pablo’s, their thumbs intertwined. Although the showers continued, Rene no longer felt its rhythms on his skin. “Dad?” his voice cracked as he coughed up blood, also quickly consumed by the rain.
Pablo tightened his grip, his eyes warming with the father’s love Rene had so missed of late. “Son.”
The conviction of his dad's statement filled him, starting the music again, this time even more beautiful and growing stronger. Rene smiled, knowing it had come to carry him home.
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