She looked up into the sky. In the barren brightness it seemed the rain could not be seen. Only the tapping on her umbrella, the splashing in the puddles, told her it was there. How would the rain feel, up there, amongst the clouds, her skin brushing against them. Would it splash her? Would it soak, or was it soft like steam from a shower?
She felt the rain seep into her shoulders. Down here, rain ran through her like disgust. On any other day she liked the rain, but today it was heavy and flat. Its cold crawled in through her neck and down her spine. Today, the rain made life seem rancid. Like something in the world was dying.
Or maybe that was just the memories under her feet. Here, on this grey day, in this grey graveyard. But even as she conjured up images of sodden soil and yellowing skeletons, she could not find a thing to disgust her. On reflection the place seemed quite tranquil, strangely still. It was the rain that filled her senses.
She felt her seclusion keenly. The rain isolated her from the world beyond, she was safe from the people in the streets, detached from the minds of the people who knew her. The rain even seemed to draw a curtain between her and the graves of the people beneath her, more so even than time itself.
The temperature was dropping. The rain had soaked through her shoulders, had flooded her shoes, and now it got to work on chilling her bones. Small pockets of warmth remained, here and there, in the muscles of her feet, in the centre of her chest. But those would soon be gone.
She looked down at her feet and flexed them in their thin trainers. Silly to wear shoes like these on a day like this, but she didn’t mind, not really. They were her favourites; their bright colours shone for her on this unrelenting grey day.
She became aware that she had been standing still for some time, so decided to wander on . It seemed inconvenient to her that gravestones didn’t have explanations for how the people died. Instead she would calculate their age and guess at their kind of death based on the era they lived in, and the grandeur of their gravestone.
She paused in front of one particularly ornate Victorian stone; a couple, who had died within months of one another. There was a quote, something that she couldn’t quite make out, and didn’t want to venture forward into the muddy grass to discover.
Something about love, everlasting, hard times et cetera. Like a Steve Wright Sunday Love Songs dedication. The Victorians would have loved its romantic clichés. It was a small ambition of hers to one day be mentioned on the show as someone’s inspiration, their rock in hard times, their everything. People who criticised the show, she felt, didn’t know what it was like to be lonely.
Something caught at her thoughts; a memory, a word, a face. His face, his name. She swilled it around in her mind for a moment, wondering whether to let the memory in. It would overwhelm her, warm her; to think of him was to have a match spark a furnace inside her.
But there was the edge to it, one that could cut, and would cut her again as she heard his refusal; ‘Sorry if you got the wrong idea…’ Ouch. Like a thump to the chest, drops of blood spilling from a deep bruise. No dude! I’m sorry if you got the wrong idea, her mind involuntarily offered.
She swallowed down the hurt. It was nothing like tears, but it was something a lot like it. She looked up again at the sky, she closed her eyes, trying to remind herself. He’s not here; I am far away. They were only memories after all. But how memories can cut.
He had cut her thickly and deeply. She didn’t know why that hadn’t driven her away. Why is it so hard to accept refusal? Why can’t we just mourn our ill placed feelings and move on? She supposed it was because someone not wanting you was never the end of you wanting them. Feelings couldn’t be cut off. How she wished she could. Turn it off, like a radio dial.
Too many men had used that line on her. ‘Sorry if you got the wrong idea…’ It was a terrible stock phrase, patronising, unhelpful. As though presuming some kind of mistake or fault on their part would make what they were saying, hurt less. They never saw it all for the basic objective thing that it was, that they were wanted. I didn’t get any wrong idea, I just liked you, she whispered from her wounded mind.
Her frown furrowed and she looked around her for a distraction. What a desperately sad sack she was. Standing in a cemetery on a Sunday morning, in the rain, deliberating on the circumstances of her own, bitterly felt, loneliness. It was thinking like this that led prominent writers to put their heads in ovens, bodies in rivers, and guns in mouths. Her mind revolted at the imagery, the truth of it all.
This had seemed like such a good idea, a walk in the rain. Now it wasn’t. She was being unkind to herself. She took one last look around the gravestones and turned to walk back up the path. She scrunched up her eyes, there would be no tears. She would walk into town, she would get some hot chocolate, she would warm herself up; she would do something other than this.