It rained on Tuesday, but not a sad rain. The kind of rain that makes you want to get your hair wet, take your hood off. Run around and tilt your head back to laugh at the sky. To wear sandals just to see how wet your feet will get. It rained all day long. The air was sticky and warm, thick with a semester’s worth of potential.
Not a good day. Alex walked slowly around the track, singing to herself. It was almost 4 pm, and the turf was starting to flood. She had the stadium all to herself. No one on the football field or the bleachers or even the grass fields nearby. Everyone scared off by the rain, the gray clouds overhead. She smiled just a little at this perfect scenario, but her feet were heavy. The raindrops made a million little polka dots in the puddles. Little pinpricks that made it look like all of campus was taking a much-needed shower. She sang quietly, glancing toward the parking lot every so often. Making absolutely certain she didn’t have any unwanted visitors peeking into her mind.
She sang songs from Broadway musicals. She smiled to herself at the clichés, the drama of the lyrics. The full orchestra that kicked in at the perfect moment, making it feel like she was at the center of the universe.
Her voice was quiet and shaky. She started off with a song from Dear Evan Hansen, the standout song from that show. That messy, teenage roller coaster, all expressed in this song, the best one. Angst and sadness, deep-seated social anxiety. Depression, family issues, failed attempts at love. That show covered it all. She had her hood up, and walked slowly at first. It was a little cold after all, and her shoulders hunched a bit.
As she walked, her voice got louder. With each chorus, she could hear the clear tone of her voice a little more. She’d always had a pretty voice. Just hadn’t used it in a while. As she switched musicals, everything from Hamilton to Cabaret, she eventually stopped walking and planted her feet. She stood, strong, and sang the climax of each song as loud as she could. Sang all the way to those grass fields, behind the bleachers and around the track. Her body tingled with the power of it all, and she even danced a little. When the strings, the drums came in all at once, she kicked the air with excitement. Now she thought about characters, protagonists, instead of real people who’d hurt her.
As she walked back to her apartment, she couldn’t hide the silly grin that lit up her face. She walked proudly, her steps lighter, noticing the sun peaking through the gray. The bright green grass sticking up through the puddles. She saw the cars on the road, a few other students crossing the street towards the apartments. She’d be alright.
The worst day he’d had in a long time. Luke’s whole body was tense, had been jittery for hours. It was almost dinner time, but he couldn’t eat until he got this out of his system. At least some of it. This day had felt like a week. He walked fast to that flooding basketball court, angry Kanye West blaring in his ears.
He refused to think about any of the things that had happened that day. He just couldn’t. The walk was taking too long, so he ran, fast, toward the rusty basketball hoop. There were a few little kids, maybe professors’ children, on the other side of the court. He barely noticed them, part of the scenery, and dropped his bag on the ground.
The rap lyrics made him madder as he dribbled the basketball, glanced up at the dark sky. He dribbled hard, again and again, only focusing on his hand and the ball. That dirty, peeling ball that would be his therapist for the next hour or two. Each dribble made the puddles splash up at him. He didn’t notice. The whole world felt gray, and he dribbled. All by himself.
He shot basket after basket until his hand was sore. Missing almost every shot at first, the ball panging off the rim of the basket. Then, eventually, he turned the volume down a bit. He wiped his sweat off his forehead and started to smile to himself. He could hear the hope in the lyrics now. There were more feelings, energy in the songs. They weren’t all angry.
The sky wasn’t that gray. His breaths were heavy as he let out frustration with each exhale. Soon, he could think about his parents and Alex and his professors. Think about forgiveness and love instead of rage and pain. He was making almost every shot now. The ball kept swooshing through the net in the most satisfying way, and he could feel the cool rain on his skin. He’d get through this.
Eventually, the rain stopped. Campus started to unwind after a long, long day. Students ate dinner and laughed and sang and played sports and then went to bed knowing the forecast was sunny tomorrow. The clouds got less gray, and the buildings, the grass felt washed clean. Wednesday would be sunnier.