The air smelled silvery and crisp, like snow, and Gigi's hopes
drifted away on the fog of her breath. The forecast called for rain—not snow—and
rain smelled green, at least until the solstice, when proximity to the sun baked
it to an electric purple. Therefore, she concluded, it was definitely not going
to rain, in spite of WXDX' forecast. With a disappointed sigh, she stood,
brushed the grit from her stone-chilled backside, and headed for home.
Shadow greeted her at the mouth of the path that led through the narrow strip of
trees separating the small city park from the banks of the Monongahela. The
aging black Lab accompanied her everywhere, but Gigi demanded privacy for some
things. It took persistent training before he agreed, albeit with reluctance, to
let her out of his sight. He drew the line at earshot, howling so piteously when
Gigi attempted to leave him at home that her roommates forbade it.
"No rain today," she explained when he fell into step beside her. "I guess I'm
just an eager beaver, eh? Oh, well. Tomorrow's another day."
He didn't answer, of course, but his trust buoyed spirits stretched thin by
cabin fever. In the icy months, those who believed her as helpless as a child
suffocated her with their care. The university even seemed to conspire against
her with its push toward Internet-based lectures. Only her elective yoga class
required her physical presence. It was the highlight of Gigi's day.
Her phone chirped as she stepped onto the park's abandoned playground.
"I'm fine, mother," Gigi answered without preamble. "I just went for a walk.
Yes, I know what time it is. I'm not afraid of the dark. Would you please just
relax? Shadow's with me. No, mother, there's no ice on the sidewalks. It's warm…ish."
After a few more reassurances, she ended the conversation before it fell into
the familiar rant about her age and abilities.
Gigi removed the dog's harness as they entered the foyer of the old rented house
on the edge of campus. A rustling from the direction of the sofa was accompanied
by hushed voices. "I didn't see a thing," she called into the living room.
Giggles and squeals followed her up the stairs to her bedroom. Delaying only
long enough to brush her teeth and disrobe, she climbed into bed. Shadow took
his place at its feet, curling into a furry semi-colon on the braided throw rug.
* * * *
The tardy warm front arrived in the wee hours of the morning,
and Gigi woke to the patter of rain on the roof. Heedless of the time, she leapt
from her bed, banging her shin on the corner of her desk and startling Shadow.
Yesterday's clothes, draped over the back of the chair, were hastily donned
without a care for their state of cleanliness or disarray. They were just going
to get wet, anyway.
"Let's go!" she urged Shadow. "It's raining!"
The dog beat her to the front door, and they stepped onto the porch before she
knelt to buckle his harness. The air tasted fresh and warm and full of promise,
and its affect on her mood was immediate. Intense anticipation erased earlier
disappointment and stoked her arousal.
They slipped silently into the night without disturbing the household.
It'd been an annual ritual for the past six years. On the first rainfall after
the equinox, Gigi greeting spring with an intimate form of worship.