Rain Run


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It's just a little light rain.

It wasn’t raining when I left for my run. This was yesterday, not today, but it stuck in mind. I made it to the first corner before I felt the first drops. I could have turned back but I’d been looking forward to going for this run all day, and maybe all week, so it seemed silly to let a little rain scare me off.  Besides, I reasoned,  I was just going to shower straightaway afterwards so a little rain wasn’t going to mess up my plans.

It’s been a long time since I’ve come running in the rain. The slickness of the pavement took some getting used to and I had to remind myself not to take corners too quickly. The raindrops fell against my face making it difficult to look straight ahead: instead I found looking down at the ground as I ran, only to discover that I’d covered my intended distance much more quickly than I anticipated: since I want focused on a goal I was able to let my mind wander instead.

In the rain, the neighborhood transforms into a fairy tale village. Pastel mid century houses surrounded by their rose bushes and palms suddenly transform into gingerbread cottages in the midst of enchanted gardens. Everyone disappears indoors. The emptiness and the soft, diffuse light lend an eeriness to everything.

I rounded the corner that marks the farthest point in my circuit and started heading home. As I ran through the neighborhood I could see that an inflatable bouncy castle had been erected in the front yard of one of the houses. From a distance I could see the white peaks of event tents over the driveway. As I got closer I happened to look over to peek  beneath the tents to see a pair of tables laid out for a child’s birthday party. There were plates and cups in neat settings. Party favors at every place. The centerpieces were monkey themed paper plates glued onto wooden dowels and festooned with ribbons. On another table, a little to one side was a magnificent bakery birthday cake, swirled in white frosting, completely uncovered and completely abandoned.

In fact everything was completely abandoned. The table settings were untouched. The house nearby was closed up tight and the windows were dark. The only sound came from the gentle grumble of the motors inflating the bouncy castle. It was like a birthday party laid out at the end of the world.

I ran past this in a matter of seconds, but the stuck with me for its extreme, haunting desolation. The complete lack of any evidence of human life made it strangely heartbreaking. I don’t recall much of the run after that I ran past again today and everything was gone as if it had never been, I wasn’t even sure which house I’d seen it at. It was gone like some kind of birthday Brigadoon.

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~ by Gwydhar Gebien on February 8, 2015.

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