Kathryn Feeney

Kathryn Feeney

Summer 2020 Contest Winner

It started raining and then it never stopped. It began like any other rain. Had there been a great clap of thunder and a tear in the sky from which poured torrents of fierce droplets whipping and thrashing our faces maybe we’d have taken special notice, but no. Just rain. A drizzle you might say. The drizzle became a light rain, which became a heavy downpour. This lasted for 24 hours. Then the torrents came. Which also wasn’t entirely unusual, so we didn’t think much of it. Of course it impeded on our days, and ruined plans for any picnics or hikes or the like, but we knew it would be over soon. So we waited. Fairly patiently, because we knew. We thought we knew.

The weather people, the meteorologists, were dumbfounded. There weren’t any signs of the deluge prior to its appearance. But mistakes had been made in the past, and surely this would clear up soon and we’d be back to normal. Of course, it wouldn’t. But we did not know that, then.

The phenomenon began in the northeast but it quickly spread. Eventually, we’d wonder if it started up there because those people were used to the rain and wouldn’t sound the alarms as quickly. Whoever sent it. Maybe they knew. Within three days, the entire country was being doused simultaneously. This was peculiar enough as it was. Not only was the rain unexpected, but it was omnipresent, as far as we were concerned. And then, soon enough, we were right. Worldwide rain. Everyone, everywhere, was wet. All of us, together. There was nowhere we could go, nowhere to escape to. The entire globe was being pummeled, non-stop, with the hardest rain any of us had ever seen.

At first, there was a global push to save everything, to preserve. The buildings, the cars, electricity. Electricity the most. If we hadn’t known before, it became clear then that electricity was the God we worshipped and would do anything for. Almost anything. Until we couldn’t. Our structures could only take so much water. One leak turned to two turned to a collapsed roof. Our vehicles could only handle so much, before sputtering out for good. And our power lines, the power lines that we so desperately fought for, that so many sacrificed themselves for, that so many died trying to save, the power lines finally downed and flared and screamed into nothingness. And then power was no more. And a great terror gripped us. And when that grip finally loosened, we realized that we had been gripped by that terror for far longer than the rain. That here, now, was the first time in most of our lives that we didn’t feel that constant gripping. And we breathed. Between the water droplets, between the sheets of rain, we breathed in and out and in and out and it was good. Very good. Better than any breathing we’d ever done.

Some recognized the blessing of the rain instantly. Others never did. Reactions varied by personality. Some woke every day in a desperate panic, praying to a new-found God that this was the day the rain would stop, then crushed when they flung their curtains open. Others relied on humor, masking their uncertainty with jokes about Noah’s ark and such, pressurizing the fear in their stomachs until it bubbled up as laughter. Some killed themselves. They couldn’t take the uncertainty, the change. Or lack thereof. Others finally seemed to find themselves. The rain literally washed away so much of what we all knew, what we had taught ourselves was the truth, that those people who had been living a sham for years, living in fear or doubt or simply in comfort were all thrown into this new reality, this new way of being, and it freed them. However it was you were living, the rain freed you. Exposed you. Washed whatever you were hiding behind or clinging to away. It flung all of us into the now, into the moment. We didn’t know when it would stop. We soon forgot when it began.

Life in the rain was different. We were more isolated than ever, yet more as one. All people, all of us, were in the rain. No exceptions. No matter who you were before, now you were a person of the rain. We were a people of the rain.

Sometimes it got so heavy we couldn’t see - couldn’t see further than a foot in front of us. But we had gotten accustomed to it, we no longer relied on sight. Being inside, fumbling in darkness, felt uncomfortable and wrong. We felt right outside. Outside in the rain. Not knowing what lay ahead but trusting that it was right. We were where we were meant to be. We would be taken in the right direction. We would be taken care of.

You could be whatever you wanted to be in the rain. Nothing was real anymore. None of the old rules stood. Gravity bent. Nothing contained us. Those of us who had been living under dark clouds of regret burst forth into our most brilliant selves. All of our fears were allayed. With all of the old patterns and measures of success washed away, we found ourselves and sparkled. Sparkled in the rain. We were all raindrops. Individual raindrops that when separate, were nothing much. But together, were something of massive importance.

In the rain, we had become one. No more living separate lives, doing separate things. We all part of one cosmic undertaking and we knew it. We never felt alone anymore. We could tangibly feel the connection between us - it was water. We were all wet. We moved as one, we thought as one, we felt as one. This new awareness came on gradually. But once it had set in, it felt as natural as the rain itself. Nothing was too painful, because the pain dispersed among all of us. Nothing could be too frightful, because the fear dispersed among all of us. The rain — the water droplets on us, in us, between us — connected us and we were one. What never seemed to run out, never had to be spread thin and diluted, was joy. Not an overwhelming joy that by its very nature is fleeting and climactic, but a subtle, internal warmth. A joy that kept us from feeling cold even though we were wet. A joy that kept us feeling safe even though we could not see. A joy that told us “You, you will be fine. This is nothing to be concerned about, in fact, this is something to celebrate. Can’t you see that everything is better now?” And we could. And we did.

Soon we forgot what it was like before the rain. What was it like to be dry? There were children who never knew life without rain, and never cared to know it. How could they? Now that we were one with it? Some believe we changed; others insisted we’d always been this way. Our skin became slick, like a dolphin’s flank. Our eyes lost their sight. Our lungs, which at first rejected the water, sputtering, aching, and straining to keep us alive, grew to tolerate it — even thrive on it to the point that some feared ever being too dry. Water became an essential ingredient to our very breathing. We moved silently. The world, for our purposes, was silent. It was so loud with the constant pounding of rain that it was, effectively, silent. Yet somehow, weaving through the rain, we’d hear music. The rain itself made music. It sang to us, and the world was its instrument. It slapped on broad leaves and tinkered on glass and plopped into lakes, orchestrating a symphony. It was so beautiful we might have cried. But crying was an unknowable feat anymore. In the rain, we were always crying and never crying.

We had become an ocean. We wondered if the sea creatures shared our experience, so clearly understanding that they were all part of the same process, the same picture, the same world. That we each made up one facet of a giant soup, that would be nothing without all of us but would be the same without any one of us. This was comforting. Some dove into the ocean, just to see if it was the same. Of course, we were still human. So those in the ocean did not live long. But we liked to think that they found the answer before they expired. And that the answer was a resounding “Yes! Yes, it is the same here too! We are all one!” And we would say “Of course we are, of course, we are.” In time to the pounding of the rain.