RAINY DAYS – PROLOGUE
I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t look for her, shouldn’t see her. And yet, I’ve been here for months, waiting outside this damned pub, spying through the foggy glass, waiting for her to pass—hoping she’s alright.
I’ve been here for two hours now. I’m afraid the bouncer is going to notice my constant presence and will kick my ass, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I check my watch, it’s 11.00 p.m. It’s Thursday night and the pub is about to close, I have to go now, before someone recognizes me.
Then I turn and lift my hood on my sweatshirt to protect my face from the bitter night air. I take a few steps towards my car that’s parked a few hundred meters away, when I’m grabbed from behind by the sleeve of my shirt.
“What the hell are you doing here?” asks the person who grabbed me.
I go rigid instantly and take a second before turning and facing the situation which I had avoided all this time.
“I’ll repeat it for you. What the fuck are you doing here?”
I sigh and turn my back on him, walking away, but he’s not gonna let this go. He follows me silently, I can hear his footsteps fall a few paces behind me, a few meters back. I don’t turn around, but continue walking to my car. I search for the keys in my pocket and go to open the door, when he shoves it shut with his hand.
“You shouldn’t have come here, Liam.”
“It won’t happen again,” I lie.
It’ll happen again.
Every damn night.
Aaron puts his hand on my shoulder, forcing me to look at him. So, I do it. I look him in the face and I fall apart. My eyes fill with tears and rage, impotence and pain.
“Jesus, Liam, you’re a mess!”
I dry my eyes and shake my head, as if I could shake away the thoughts that haunt me.
“Why were you hanging out there?”
“I didn’t want to create any problems. It was a moment of weakness, it won’t happen again.”
“Oh, bullshit! I know you’ve been out there every single night. The bouncer noticed you at least two months ago, and if he hasn’t beaten your ass it’s only because I told him not to. But be careful, or I might change my mind.”
I breathe heavily and lean my back against the car door.
“I just wanted—I just wanted to see her.”
“Don’t get close to her.”
“I just want to make sure she’s okay.”
Aaron breathes impatiently while he brushes both hands through his hair.
“You don’t seem very convinced.”
“It’s a complicated situation, Liam. We almost lost her, for fuck’s sake! And then—Well, she’s never been the same.”
“What do you mean? You just said she was well. I saw her here behind the bar a few nights ago—”
“Liam,” he interrupts me, putting a hand on my shoulder. “She doesn’t remember.”
“What does that mean?”
“She doesn’t remember the accident, she doesn’t remember what happened before it, or anything immediately after.”
I am silent for a moment as I try to process what Aaron has just told me.
“How is that possible? I thought it was something temporary, that would have improved with time—”
“Liam.” He pauses, as if looking for the courage to continue. “She doesn’t remember many things from her past, about her life. She doesn’t remember the last concert—she doesn’t remember you—she doesn’t remember Neil.”
Just hearing his name pains my heart. I bring my hand impulsively to my chest as if my gesture could prevent it from shattering.
“Head trauma and amnesia and—the fact that she has removed part of her past means that after two years the doctors think it’s impossible that it will come back to her now.”
“I don’t understand—”
“Stay away from her, please, it’s already so difficult.”
“I can’t.” And as I speak, I can feel my ribcage tighten, pushing against my heart. “I can’t.” I repeat, more to myself than to him.
Aaron looks at me, clearly worried. His face is drawn, his eyes heavy, appearing the way someone does who has just given up and let himself go after going through a really rough patch. He’s got a long, unkempt beard—it looks almost more disreputable than mine. His posture is rigid and his expression is of one who has accepted his fate. Someone who’s doing everything he can to keep his head above water, but knows this ship is going down.
“When did you get back?” he asks, fumbling for a packet of cigarettes in his back jeans pocket. He takes one and offers one to me.
“Three months ago,” I answer, lighting up and letting out the smoke and closing my eyes.
“What is it you’re trying to do here?” His voice is hard. “What do you want?”
“I—I don’t know. I’m not trying to do anything. I only wanted to see how she’s doing, to make sure her life was…” I’m not able to finish the phrase. I drop my head to my hands and start to cry. The tears flow, undisturbed, echoing the misery in my face, my shoulders and my heart.
It’s a word I’ve said ever since that day, but it doesn’t help anything. Regardless of how many times I’ve said it, regardless of how convinced I am regarding the sincerity of my feelings, it’s all crap.
It’ll never be enough.
There isn’t any one word in the world that can bring us all back.
A long silence wraps itself around us, embraces us and calms us as if we needed that in order to leave the pain outside our bodies, permitting us to breathe without that unsustainable weight of being still there. Being alive.
I exhale and I let everything I have in mind flow freely.
“I need to fix something. I need to put some pieces together of what is left. I need…” I pause for a moment. “…Her.”
I can’t believe what I’m saying.
“I’m only gonna tell you this one time,” Aaron tells me, “so I hope you get my message loud and clear: Rain is my sister and she’s all I’ve got. I will not permit you to hurt her, in any way, nor to bring to light all that has happened. I don’t understand your intentions very well, but if your glance even touches her, I swear to you, I will make you regret it, and I’ll make you swallow your balls. Am I clear?”
“I thought we were already over this, that you had made a new life for yourself.”
“Aaron, I don’t think you—”
“Hey, you left! Turning your back on all of us, turning your back on her!”
“It’s not like that.”
“You got everything you always dreamed of, right? So why, for the love of God, have you come back here? There’s nothing for you here, Liam. Nothing.”
I hide in the silence because I don’t have the courage to speak the truth out loud. I don’t have the courage to say the words that are slowly consuming me.
I shouldn’t have.
I couldn’t have.
It was the only thing I had promised myself not to do.
“Shit, Liam!” Aaron turns his back on me and walks away, cursing against the emptiness.
I don’t know what my intentions are or what I’ll do, I just know I have to get close to her, because she’s the only one who can give me back a reason for living, who can alleviate my pain and my guilt. I have to fix some things, I need to get someone’s life back up on its feet.
I need her, to breathe, to understand that it isn’t finished, to lighten my load that I carry on my shoulders, in my head and my heart. I need to know that at least she is going to make it. That she can have a life, and that I, maybe, could live in her reflection and feel—feel something, understand that I am still alive.
What the fuck have I done?
I’m a terrible person.
In a single night, I destroyed everything.
A stupid mistake.
Just one that I can’t make better.