RAIN • by Heather Holland Wheaton

It’s raining again. Cold, wet sheets of gray are falling in the same steady rhythm they’d been falling in every day for a week.

“Last October we had a heat wave,” says Parker, his forehead pressed against the window in Marshall’s office, watching the traffic of black umbrella tops on the sidewalk eighteen stories below. “This year, it’s cold and wet. Whoever’s in charge of weather needs to learn about balance.”

“Maybe they should take up yoga,” says Marshall, without looking up from his computer.

“Maybe they should,” says Parker. He stands upright and leaves a forehead print on the glass. “Maybe whoever’s in charge of weather should buy a yoga mat with a Buddha on it. Maybe they should start drinking Chai tea with soy milk.”

“Maybe you should get the hell out of my office,” says Marshall. “You’re giving me a headache.”

“Everything gives you a headache,” says Parker, but he leaves. He wanders down the carpeted hallway peeking into the offices that are open, looking to see if anyone from the agency is up for lunch. A real lunch, with drinks as an appetizer. He’s feeling restless; the rain’s getting to him. He’d been Mr. Gung-ho at the beginning of the month, ready to start a dozen new projects that all now seem to be waiting for the sun to shine before he can get back to them.

Everyone in the agency is too busy for lunch. They don’t want to go out in that mess, they’ll order in and eat at their desks while they work. They tell Parker this as if he should do that too, and he goes back to his office and shuts his door. He puts his feet up on his desk, squeezes a stress ball and watches the endless gray sheets of rain.

A woman appears in the window of the office building on the other side of the street. She’s wearing a white blouse that glows in the gloom. She presses her forehead against the glass just as Parker had done in Marshall’s office and stands looking down on the street.

She’s pretty, thinks Parker. He can see the healthy swell of her breasts beneath the blouse. He can’t see her legs or her ass, but he has a feeling that they’d be nice too. He thinks about scribbling a note on a piece of poster board. “Would you like to have lunch?” She looks like the type that would say yes.

He swings his feet off his desk, quickly grabs a piece of foam core and a Sharpie, but when he looks at the window again, she’s gone.

“Figures,” he says. He resumes his rain-watching position and a black leather desk chair crashes through the window where the woman was standing. It flips over once and plummets, wheels spinning as it falls.

Parker rushes to the window. The chair has already landed on top of a cab by the time he gets there. The driver gets out and waves his arms in wild arcs.

“Holy shit,” says Parker.

The woman appears again, framed by the jagged edges of the broken window. She’s even prettier without the filter of glass; high, Slavic cheekbones and hair the color of wheat pulled off her face into a tight French knot. She looks down at the chair and the beginnings of a traffic jam, then looks straight ahead and her eyes meet Parker’s.

His eyebrows shoot up to ask what happened and the woman dives with the grace and poise of an Olympic champion over the edges of the shattered window and into the cold river of rain. She lands on the same cab that the chair did, a circle of onlookers already formed, waiting for her without knowing she was coming.

Heather Holland Wheaton has self-published two collections of interconnected flash fiction: Eight Million Stories in a New York Minute and Wet Paint. Eight Million Stories has sold nearly 2000 copies and has been listed in the annual Time Out Guide New York as ‘Suggested Further Reading’ since 2005. Her work has also appeared in P.I.M., The Morning News, Common Ground and Slipstream.

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