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by Amanda Hall

The rain pours off the roof, sliding to the corner and fountaining over the edge of the rain gutter. I balance on the edge of the sandstone wall around the garden box, grabbing onto the steel post with one hand and reaching out with the other. My mouth attempts a smile. Cold, wet rain dumps onto my arm, cooling my skin and dissipating an unbearable July heat.

So many days of heat, made worse by my nausea. The past four weeks melted me into a pool of skin and hair that only liked to eat fruit and drink ice-cold water. But a few days ago, my nausea lifted—only what came next would be worse than my nausea.

Three times before. Not always in July, though. This would be the fourth. Perhaps the last. I would flush another failed fetus away, along with another bit of my happiness. Brutal July heat outside. Miserable July heat inside.

But rain. Rain brought relief. I ran inside to open the windows, outside to lift my face to the heavy drops. Inside to start the dishwasher, outside to sit on the steps and watch the lightning. My shirt sticks to me after standing in the outside shower.

I used to be scared of thunder. I used to be scared of being pregnant. But people change. I changed. I learned to find comfort in thunder, in the rain that followed and the drink it provided to a very dry land. I learned to be happy with this pregnancy, with the possibility of loving a child again, trying to find a bigger car, putting off graduation for just one semester.

But thunder doesn’t always bring rain.

This afternoon storm touches my skin. Each drop a comfort. Each gust of wind nature’s embrace. This is the only thing that has gone right. So much heat brought wildfire and drought. So much brokenness, a failure that follows me inside. Haunts me. Brings me to the ground in a motionless heap. Now, the high temperatures dissipate.

Rain is like music. The overture a sonata, thunder in the background. Lightning far away. It builds. Becomes a trio when the water erupts from the clouds. Sometimes soft, sometimes heavy. The music plinks on glass and metal. Splashes the cement. Creates a cacophony of sound that seeps through my clothes and chest and heart.

How can my heart still beat when the baby’s does not?

The rain starts to slow. I don’t want it to end, or to feel like an end. Instead, I want a beginning. I want to start over. I push past the thick air around me and walk directly into the rain as it turns to a drizzle. I speak to it, tell it to keep going.

Don’t leave yet.