She loves the rain. She doesn't tell him this, but she likes to breathe in the heavy air, likes the effort of dragging it into her lungs. In that moment, nature feels alive around her, resisting her, and every small victory of every small breath confirms that she's alive, too.
And she wants to live.
Sometimes, although she always has an umbrella, she likes to stand unprotected beneath the weeping skies. She lets the umbrella fall lazily to her side and tips her head back so that the drops smack across her exposed face. Like this, she closes her eyes and imagines a hundred tiny fingers gently touching her face, gentle caresses that make their way across her forehead, down her cheeks, through her hair. Somehow, it fills her with warmth.
The cold only comes later when she is alone in her darkened home and the only sound of life is a clock ticking in another room.
She used to dance in the rain with arms outflung and her dress tangled about her legs and when her lips parted with laughter the rain would wet her tongue. The grass would tickle her ankles and the mud would suck at her bare feet, pulling her down, pulling her down, until she would collapse, breathless, and lay spent and grinning on those quiet hills. The wind would blow then, carrying the voice of her mother—"Riza… Riza…!"—and she would think:
Just a moment longer.
And sometimes she would get sick and lay stricken with fever and a cough and her mother's admonishments on the following sunny day. She would think bitter thoughts of regret when her sweat covered her in its chilly embrace and the room spun when she closed her eyes. In her fevered weakness, she would agree with her mother and foreswear playing in the rain forever.
But the smell of rain would make her restless and the sound of rain would draw her back and the feel of rain was like a homecoming.
She was too young then to understand the concept of being cleansed.
But in the desert, whose dryness cracked not only skin but the fragile bonds of her sanity, she longed for the rain to come, to fall down in sheets, to drown out the noise of gunfire and explosions and the dying. To mask the smell that clung to her and the sand and the dead piling quietly in lost corners. So that she could close her eyes and pretend for a moment that she was anywhere but there and the rain was the gentle touch of her mother smoothing away her nightmares.
And she would run away from reality and be free of the blood on her hands.
Nowadays when she sees the dark clouds approaching and tastes the humidity in the air, she frowns and checks for an umbrella because he always seems to forget. And when it rains, because she knows it will, she quietly holds the umbrella over both of them and scoots her hand a little closer to her pistol, knowing all too well how he and the rain don't mix. But in reality he doesn't mind the rain, doesn't complain, and when they stand huddled beneath her one nearly inadequate umbrella, she can feel the warmth he radiates.
When it rains, she likes to be with him.
And when she isn't, she imagines the rain and its gentle, cleansing touch might be something like his, filled with quiet strength and pouring endlessly forth, enveloping her whole.
And then she is that little girl, dancing in the rain, chasing after who knows what, laughing, laughing, happy and free.
Riza loves the rain.