200mm in an hour. It didn’t rain for the full hour, only twenty minutes or so but the downpour roared with intensity. I watched them all desert the streets. Even the traffic seemed to stop. If it were to rain like that for an hour there’d be real cause for concern. The drainage on our street and the surrounding area has always suffered in heavy rain. We’re in a valley. Three years back the rain fell for four days straight and the parents had to claim on the house insurance after the carpets were ruined and the walls and furniture took water damage. I wasn’t there but I saw photos and the place was unrecognisable.
There was little evidence of the deluge. It left as quickly as it arrived. Those that now walked the streets with me had left their houses without coats and umbrellas not anticipating the rain, and now that the downpour was over they could continue with their day, slowly emerging from the shops and garages and cafes that provided them shelter. The sky cleared and the sun was weak but it was there. A few solitary puddles were all that remained, mementos from a storm.
A depression on the surface of the road has filled with rainwater; a puddle. Throughout the day it will evaporate away but slow and eventual. Upon looking down at the still water it is possible to see a reflection of the world as the puddle sees it.
It ripples, like disruptions on some ancient lake. The reflection distorts and birds fly in reverse. Rain does not fall but rises. People walk backwards and the buildings that tower above are close, falling towards or around as if in the throes of seismic activity.
I bend down and my hand enters the cold water of the puddle. It is deep, deeper than I could have imagined and so I lie flat on my stomach and reach into the darkness as my shirt and jeans soak up the rainwater on the road. A car approaches and pulls up not far from where I lay. The window rolls down and a concerned voice speaks.
“What do you think you’re doing son, lying there in the road?
“There’s something in there. I saw the water ripple but it’s deeper than I thought.”
“You’re getting drenched, get up out of that mess.”
“Whatever it is, I can’t reach it.”
“You need to get out the road. Come on.”
I sat in the cafe with the stranger across the table. The mug of coffee I held was warming yet still it was not enough, and shivering with my sodden darkened clothing and the towels wrapped around me, opposite a man I had only just met, the situation was a curious one.
“Will you be okay? I would stay longer but i really must be off.”
“I’m fine. I just thought I saw something, that’s all.”
“Maybe you did. Not everything can be helped though.”
And he got up and left.
© Nicholas J. Parr, 2015.