Chapter Nine: And Then Rain Walked Around For What Feels Like Ever and Apparently is Just Cold and Sad
Rain left those first people the next morning. He didn’t really know why. He didn’t want to go back up the mountain, he supposed. They did. He walked on, and so did they.
“See you in the next life,” Pilar had said, hugging him. He took the hug, wondering at her words. He wasn’t quite sure what they meant. He didn’t know what most of their words had meant, to be honest. They felt familiar; but when he thought about any one specific utterance, he was left with nothing.
The sun was bright in the sky, and about halfway done with its day. Rain closed his eyes, breathing in the wet air. The sun wasn’t usually so bright, in this new place. It felt nice. It felt quiet. He felt like the world was finally still enough. Enough for what, he didn’t know. To think, perhaps. To be. To breathe.
Rain kept walking and the world kept expanding. The mountain shrank behind him, purple and low to the ground. Roads and rocks unrolled before him. He hadn’t initially known what they were. The roads, not the rocks. But they were similar enough to the goat trails, and he got the gist.
He passed more people. He would see them from a distance, and he would smile. He would walk faster, not paying attention. Not realizing that he was walking faster.
“Hello,” he would shout, grinning, hurrying forward. And then he would see the faces. And they never were Short Mother or Tall Mother, or baby Sila. He knew that they wouldn’t be, there at the surface of his mind. But the deeper bits of him had trouble remembering what he knew. He would walk past the people, slowly. Frowning, trying to remember. He was, and his mothers, his sisters, his brothers, were not. And they were not here, most of all.
He passed more people, and a cycle established itself: first, there was the nothing. Just him, his feet, and the drowned roads. Then there was the anticipation, as he saw a new speck, small but growing, there at the edge of the world. Then the joy, the skipping and stumbling. Then recognition. Or rather, a lack thereof. Then the sharp, sudden loneliness. Then, nothing again. These cycles got smaller the further he got from the mountaintop. He didn’t feel them as intensely. Because, after a while, the faces were just faces. He couldn’t remember what it was that they were not. After a few days, he couldn’t remember Short Mother’s face, or Tall Mother’s, and certainly not baby Sila’s. He just knew that these new faces weren’t them.
Eight days after the garden Rain reached the end of the earth. Black-blue water fanned out in front of him, surprisingly calm. It was raining.
“Well,” he said, pushing some of the water around with his toe. It wasn’t any colder than the rest of this place. He turned around, studying the world he had come from. He hadn’t been able to see the mountain in days. The sky was too bent over everything for him to see much of anything, truth be told.
“Well, I’m not going back,” he said, turning again to the water. He was sure it wouldn’t go on for ever, either. He thought he could make out something there, in the distance, rising up out of the black-blue expanse.
“It’ll be fine,” he said, wading into the water. And if it’s not, he thought, at least I won’t be able to remember why. He sighed, wondering whether he should cry. No tears came, though. He dove into the waves.