Hands like rain
Hands like rain on August fields
Hands like rain, falling soft
To ease the drought inside
As memories fade, not much remains
But hands like rain. -- James McMurtry
He couldn't remember where he was or when he was, either. Time seemed to be suspended, the only constants in his universe pain and heat and bright light. Every movement of his body, no matter how small, brought fresh input of those three constants, and so he tried to stay as still as possible, his eyes tightly shut. Sometimes his world increased; there were loud noises around him and things touched him, hot and sharp like forged steel talons.
Time passed: how much he did not know. Time passed and he endured, as he had so many other things; the weight of painful expectations is his childhood, the demands placed on a soldier and Ranger and officer, the death of so many around him. He had endured all of those things, but here, alone in the pain and heat and bright light, he felt his will begin to waver. All around him, he could smell disease and death and fear. He could feel his body desiccating, drying out in the heat and bright light.
He sank further, trying not to wish that he wasn't alone, that his companion was with him...
Then he smelled it -- distantly, faintly -- the smell of northern forests, of trees and moss and silver mists. Rain from swollen, gravid clouds. The cool, familiar scents came closer, accompanied by the rumble of thunder. Something touched him and he flinched away on reflex, before realizing the touch was not painful and that the rumble was not thunder but words, soft words, cool and comforting like the hands that touched him.
"Jesus, Jim," the voice said, "look at you, you've got the mutant flu from hell, man. I leave you for five days and you end up in the hospital looking like a piece of very white pemmican." The cool hand continued to stroke his arm. "It'll be okay, though, the fever is starting to come down."
A wet cloth was placed on his forehead and then the smallest, cool drops of water at the corner of his mouth. In the world in which he had been dwelling, rain clouds began to develop on the horizon and, through the heat shimmer in the distance, a figure began to form, walking straight toward him. The clouds and the scent of rain obediently followed the figure. He knew that figure.
"Blair," he tried to say, through too-dry lips.
The calm voice quieted him. "Hey, shhhh, just relax. I have a little bit more water I can give you -- not too much, you haven't been able to eat or drink for days, so they tell me."
More drops of water touched his lips and he let them trickle into his parched mouth. The figure was closer now, and he could see the smiling face, the deep blue eyes, bright with friendship and caring. Behind the figure the first raindrops began to fall, bringing to him the peculiar smell of hot, wet dust and the first cool, wet breeze across his skin.
The cool hand, the hand that felt like rain on his skin, kept stroking his arm, and finally he opened his eyes, to see the same deep blue eyes, looking more stressed and worried, staring down at him.
"You... brought... rain." Jim lifted a hand and touched Blair's wet hair.
Blair's eyebrows quirked up. "Yeah, well, it's winter in Cascade, Jim, rain's kind of a given. You can't blame it on me."
Jim smiled and closed his eyes again, the landscape behind his eyelids now cool and comfortable. "Feels good."
Send feedback to Rhyo
Go back to Home Page