#fridayflash: meat rain

I haven't written in second person for a while (never for a Friday Flash that I can remember). This situation seemed to suit it.

You forgot to bring along an umbrella. You did check the weather forecast, and it said "rain overnight". It's only eight PM now — surely that doesn't count as "overnight" yet? You curse the weather reporters, and you curse yourself for not knowing better. You can feel a big rain coming on, every time. Especially here, where there are rains every three or four days. Your sinuses always tell you. It's like living on a very big, very slow roller coaster.

Something in the vicinity of the bus stop smells of boiled hot dogs and the accumulated grease of a hundred orders of street-meat sausages on a bun. Someone, maybe even a few someones, must have thrown up their hangover cure at the stop. You hope you didn't step in it — the rain is distracting. At least it'll wash away the vomit.

You need to get home, and between here and your apartment is about a twenty-minute walk. You're already at the closest bus stop, which of course is nowhere near close enough. If you even did manage to hail a cab — and good luck finding one around here before the bars downtown close — it would also take about twenty minutes, because it will have to go by the roads, and although you can see your apartment building from here when it's not dark and raining, the route for cars is far longer.

A cab ride lasting twenty minutes is a lot of money around here. You don't have a lot of money.

The streetlamps glow their orangey sulphur gold, and the cars' headlights glow yellow-white, and you notice as you huddle under the bus stop shelter that the wet gleam on the sidewalk and the road looks wrong. Even in the reluctant yellow lighting, it has an iridescent sheen to it, more like a puddle of oil at a garage than the glint of rainwater.

There's no more delaying it. You're going to have to walk home in this. You try to pull your coat over as much of yourself as you can, remember there's a nice hot drink to be made when you get home, and plunge into the deluge.

The force and angle of the wind means the rain blows into your face as you head home, no matter how much you bow your head. The water is warmer than you expected, warmer than the air. Even for all the strange weather this city gets that's unusual.

It doesn't take very long for the rain to drip away from your nose and into the corners of your mouth. You instinctively let it in and swallow it — it's just rainwater, after all — but the taste leaves you spitting and spluttering. You realise the boiled-sausage smell isn't coming from anything deposited on the ground, but from the rain itself. You pick up the pace and jam your hands into your coat pockets. Your fingers slide against each other as you ball them into fists, as if you just dunked them in salad dressing.

You reach the long flight of cement stairs as the wind increases, pressing your soaked, greasy hair against your forehead. The stairs are slippery in a regular rainfall, and treacherous when coated with whatever is falling from the sky now. You have a white-knuckled grip on the rusty steel railing, trying to counteract the slipperiness. Two-thirds of the way down your foot slips off the step and clumps awkwardly down to the next one, making you shout aloud and clench the railing. Bits of grease-soaked rust burrow into your palms.

You finally reach the bottom of the stairs and run along the walkway to your apartment building. Sections of the walkway are tilted and crooked from last winter's frost. During rains they form puddles, framed by the muddy lawn on one side. Normally you would leap over them, but after the near-wipeout on the stairs you instead perform two shorter side-to-side jumps, your left foot landing on the higher part of the slab, your right just beyond the puddle.

You finally reach the front lobby of your building, where the air feels chillier and drier, even though you know there's no air conditioning, and it wouldn't be on this time of year anyhow. You dig your keys out of your pocket, open the security door, and take the elevator to your floor.

Inside the shelter of your own apartment, you can't smell the grease anymore, but you can definitely feel it. At first you just wash off your hands and face (you'll have to assess the state of your coat and shoes later), but that does nothing for your hair and just the general sense of being slimed. So you take a shower, and because that doesn't quite do it, you brush your teeth, rinsing your mouth more than usual.

Later, in your pajamas, you'll part the curtains and watch the rain, which is still pelting down and thoroughly coating everything outside. You start to understand why when you first came here and said rain showers were refreshing, people laughed.

And you start to understand that you can't stay.