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Rain -- flash fiction by Caelan DiCosmo


The house at the end of Alex’s neighborhood had not been lived in for forty-two and a half years. It seemed odd to Alex that someone would let a house go like that. Let the walls crumble and the wood rot. Alex’s mother sometimes tells her about the realtors who tried to sell the house. People toured the house and, no matter how cheaply it was priced, decided there was just something off about it. 

Alex felt bad for the house. She wondered what it would be like to spend forty-two years alone. No people, no noises, just the tired old creaking of a tired old house. 

Alex had always had her best friend, Sam. He lived two doors down in a boring gray house, but was the funniest person Alex had ever met. The house had no Sam, maybe not even a nice family of mice. It must be terrible.

As she and Sam stand in front of the house, Alex feels even worse for it. It sags under the thick summer heat, like it’s melting. Despite the houses evenly spaced beside it, it still seems alone. As if its next door neighbors can’t help but lean away. 

The world around the house is awfully still. The wind doesn’t blow, and the birds don’t sing. All Alex can hear is the low buzz of fans in the distance. Her hands tighten around the handlebars of her bike, slick with sweat. She looks over at Sam.

“Ready?” 

Neither of them moves. Back in her bedroom, going into the house seemed like a good idea. They’d been plotting the adventure for weeks. Finally, they would be able to figure out what was wrong with the house. Why people treated it like some contagious disease. 

Now it feels wrong, like Alex and Sam are intruding on a private conversation. But they’ve wondered about this house for years. The rotting house at the end of the road. Some days, Alex would dare Sam to go knock on the door, though he never did. 

Alex takes a slow, hesitant step forward, her rusted bike squealing from the effort. 

Sam taps her shoulder.

“Alex,” he whispers, “Look.” 

 Alex turns, shielding her eyes from the blinding sun. A woman is walking towards them. She has a placid, blank expression. The kind of plain face and simple clothes that you can tack any identity on. 

“Looks like rain,” she nods at them, grinning. Her voice is harsh and grating and despite her smile, there is no emotion in her eyes. 

Alex turns, staring up at the sky. A dull, cloudless sky stares back. Sweat drips down her temples. Sam squints his eyes at the woman. “Not rea-”

“Looks like rain,” the woman smiles. She has not blinked once.

Sam points up at the sky as if to say no it doesn’t, but when they turn back to face the woman, she’s walking away.

Alex shifts from foot to foot for a moment, staring at the house. She takes a deep breath, and walks toward it, Sam just behind her. 

Suddenly, horribly, Alex can feel the woman’s hot breath on her neck. “You should go home. It’s going to rain.”

She whips around, her heart pounding out of her chest. The woman stands inches away  from Alex and Sam. Finally there is emotion in her eyes, but it’s wild - savage almost. 

  “Let’s go,” Sam mumbles, tugging on Alex’s arm. “We can come back tomorrow or something.”

“Yeah.”

  They back up slowly, like they’re trying to appease a dangerous beast. The look fades from the woman’s eyes. She smiles at them, nods. 

 Alex turns her bike around and wheels it away quickly, Sam jogging along beside her. Alex sees the woman smiling and nodding every time she blinks. It’s as if someone has taken a branding iron of the woman’s face and pressed it to her brain. 

The heat of the day dissipates, rain sprinkling the ground. 


 

Caelan DiCosmo is a sophomore at Maggie L. Walker Governor’s School. She loves to read and write, and has previously won a scholastic gold key. Currently reading: Mother in the Dark by Kayla Maiuri.



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