“Should’ve brought a raincoat,” mumbled Katie as she ran the few steps left to the door under the archway. The rain poured down around her, giving the school a rather sad, grey felling. When she had left her home, only half an hour earlier, there hadn’t been a cloud in the sky. It had started as a mild drizzle, and gradually built up into a downpour.
She let the water drip from her blond hair and soaked blue jacket and brown skirt for a few seconds, before swinging the door open, and stepping inside. There, she dropped her black book bag to the floor. Then Katie unwrapped the wet jacket from around herself, revealing a white blouse. With jacket and bag in hand, she walked onward.
Her shoes squeaked as she crossed the deserted lobby area, her wet hair bouncing with each step, until she strolled onto the carpeted entrance of the library. Inside, she inhaled the smell of thousands of books, novels, and literature. Adjusting her glasses, she walked over to a familiar bookshelf, and began perusing the section.
“Let’s see… where is that… Ah ha!” exclaimed Katie as she grabbed a novel from the shelf. She glanced around to make sure no one was looking, before gleefully giving the book a quick hug.
“I’ve been looking for you forever,” whispered Katie to the book, an immaculate image of an angel embossed on the front cover. Embarrassed that she had said that out loud, she quietly made her way to a desk, and sat down to read.
James cursed as he splashed through yet another puddle, his umbrella providing no protection from the water already on the ground. He walked the rest of the way to the archway, surrounded by the silent grey buildings. For a moment he paused, to take in how different the school looked on weekends, before closing his black umbrella and swinging the door open. Inside, he pushed his brown hair out of his eyes, and unzipped his grey parka, with a navy blue shirt underneath.
He made a face to the empty lobby as his sneakers squeaked against the concrete floor. Finally, he arrived at the library, an endless maze of shelves and desks. Taking in the old, almost gothic architecture of the building, James made his way through the security gate, which along with the computers, seemed almost out of place.
An aged woman with white hair and glasses sat at the desk in the centre just past the gate. She glared briefly at James, before returning to a book she held with one hand, her other hand folded across her lap. James walked past the desk and wandered towards the section marked “Fiction”. It seemed that the library was mostly deserted today, probably due to the stormy weather, thought James.
“Hmm, what was that book I was supposed to read?” said James to himself. He took out a wrinkled sheet of paper from his pocket. It read: ‘English Assignment – Of Dragons and Angels, by Emily Drake’.
“A… B… C… D… Damien… Deirdre… Donovan… Duke… hmm… no Drake,” mumbled James. He stared at the empty shelf space where the book should have been. Disappointed, James walked back to the counter where the old lady sat.
“Uh, excuse me, but do you know where I can get a copy of Dragons and Angels? By, uh…” James fumbled with the paper. “Emily Drake?”
The librarian turned and typed something onto a computer. “I’m sorry young man, but it appears our only copy of that book was checked out very recently,” said the librarian apologetically.
“Ok, uh thanks anyway,” said James. With a frown, he walked out the security gate and back into the lobby. He’d have to figure out another way to get his project done.
As James crossed the lobby to the door, he noticed a girl standing by the entrance, staring out a window. Absentmindedly, she ran her hand through her long blond hair, and sighed. Outside, the storm continued it’s torrential downpour. As James approached, the girl turned and slowly moved her hands to her book bag.
“Um, hi!” began James. “I’ve seen you around school before, right, uh, your…”
“Katie… Katie Sorenson,” said the girl shyly.
“Oh, ok, I’m James Marcus… uh, so what are you waiting for?” asked James.
“…For the rain… to stop…” said Katie, as she turned back to face the window.
James followed her gaze out to the grey sky. He could hear the droplets as they scattered along the windowpane. For a moment, James considered just leaving with his umbrella, but then, came up with a better idea.
“Well, it doesn’t look like the rain will stop anytime soon, so, uh, here,” said James, at first hesitating, but growing bolder as he held out his umbrella.
“What? No, I couldn’t take that,” replied Katie. “How are you gonna get home?”
“I’ll just, um,” stuttered James. He stopped as she gazed intently at him.
“How about we walk together?” blurted out James.
“Well, we could part halfway. I mean, you live, in what direction?”
Katie pointed out the window. Outside, James could see in that direction, the hazy outline of trees and houses.
“Alright, that’s just like, a couple blocks before where I live, come on!“
James charged outside, swinging the umbrella open above him, and then turning back, he held the door open. Meekly, Katie stepped outside.
The droplets falling and thudding onto the umbrella was like an unceasing drum roll. All around they could see the neighbourhood, overshadowed in a steady, calm gloom. James tried carefully kept pace with his single entourage, shielding Katie from the cold, icy rain. He was being stoic, the way he remembered his father had always been.
They strolled along the sidewalk now, and Katie noticed that James was staring into the distance, as though he was off in some other world. She wished that she wasn’t so shy all the time. She’d only come to this school last semester, and still hadn’t made any friends.
“So, um, nice weather we’re having,” joked James. He was back from wherever he’d gone for that moment.
“Uh, I’m not used to so much rain,” responded Katie.
“Yeah, but it’s only for a season. You should see when the cherry trees blossom in the spring. Now that’s a spectacular…” James stopped for a moment.
“What is it?” said Katie as she caught herself from stepping beyond the protection of the umbrella.
Suddenly there was a loud splash as a car drove by them and threw water all over the sidewalk just metres in front of them. They started walking again.
“So did you just move here last year?” asked James.
“Yes, we used to live here when I was younger actually, but we moved away for a few years.” Katie trailed off.
Behind them, the school seemed like a distant shadow, its rectangular frame partially obscured by the trees and the downpour. At an intersection, Katie motioned left, and they crossed the street.
“So what were you doing at the library?” asked Katie as she moved her book bag to one side.
“Well, see we got this English assignment, and I was looking for a book, but it was checked out and all…”
“Oh… Too bad I guess,” said Katie. “What title was it you were looking for?”
“I think it was Dragons and Angels by Drake. So why were you at the library?”
Katie unzipped her book bag and took out the book, its cover partly obscured by the shadow of the umbrella.
“The Angelus Chronicles: Part II. I read the first one a long time ago and just had to find the next one.”
Katie returned the book neatly to her book bag, and turned around to face James. She tried to walk backwards in tandem with James’ pace, but slipped when her foot encountered a puddle. Quickly he tried to catch Katie but instead they both fell into the puddle with a splash. Suddenly James realized he was on top of her.
He immediately jumped up and with a silly feeling of embarrassment, held out his hand for the blushing Katie. She grabbed it and he pulled her out of the puddle.
They were silent for a time, until Katie pointed in the direction of an old brick house. Its walls were lined with ivy, and in the steady shadow of the rain, it appeared almost like it was abandoned.
“Well, that’s my house, thanks for the escort,” She ran quickly to the door and after fumbling with her keys, went inside.
“Your welcome,” said James. His words echoed in the wind.
He turned around and started walking back, still holding his umbrella above him. As he reached a corner, he heard the splashing sounds of feet running behind him.
She was running towards him, her arms holding a book close to her chest. Little beads of water fell from her hair and skirt.
“I forgot to mention, I have the book you were looking for,” said Katie after catching her breath. “It’s my mom’s old copy, so you’d better bring it back in perfect condition.”
James smiled. “I’ll protect it with my life. Thank you.”
Katie sneezed. “I probably shouldn’t have run out in the rain. I’ll probably catch a cold,” said Katie, giggling for a second.
“I’ll walk you back then,” said James as he offered his jacket to her.
They walked the rest of the way back to the door of the old brick house.
“Thanks again for walking me home… and sorry for pulling you into that puddle.” She smiled at him shyly and handed his jacket back.
“Eh, it was nothing… Thanks for the book, I don’t know what I’d have done without it.”
James walked down past the school towards his house. The rain had subsided, and rays of sunlight were piercing through the clouds like beacons amidst the grey.