Raindrops compose rhythmic, pitter-patter music as they caress my skin. They leave a brackish tang on my tongue and the scent of springtime in my nose.
Bathed by soothing mist and ambient light, I lie upon warm dirt. Flowers sprout between my fingers, tickling. Newly formed petals nod their colorful heads as they bloom—lilac, indigo, cerulean hues.
I am rain. I am sun. I am earth.
I cannot move.
Vines spiral, serpent-like, around me. They squeeze and pulse until I am erect and jerking with lust. I’m flooded with desire, shame, and fear.
My mind, desperately struggling to make sense of things, turns to the Garden of Eden, Heaven and Hell—concepts once scoffed at. Perhaps, I have lost my mind.
Am I dead?
Selfish and aggressive, I’d been a commanding man, wielding my power like a sword, hurting others self-righteously as I climbed to the top of the heap.
Even as rain and flora begin to work together, stroking me into an exquisite, surreal orgasm, I am sure death looms and decide I must be in Hell.
“Jack! I can’t do it!”
Blinded by pummeling rain, Jack swallowed anger.
Autopilot attached—hating to leave the helm in the storm—Jack fought his way to the bow where his wife struggled with the tangled emergency parachute.
The storm had struck fast, the sea forming deep valleys their sailboat seemed desperate to cast itself into, suicidal. Any larger, and they’d become huge waves, unleashing deadly amounts of energy as seawater crashed down. They’d be crushed unless the chute was in the water to dissipate the ocean’s power.
“Move! You’re totally useless!” Jack pushed Diane away, ignoring her familiar wounded expression.
Hell is sunny, yet rain always falls. The sky is cloudless, brilliant blue.
I know I am no longer alone. Untangling myself from sensuous brambles, I walk naked to meet my judge, crushing violets under my feet.
I am surprised to see a woman. She sits as if meditating in the verdant field, her legs folded, palms filling with rain. Her hair is long and brown, her face hidden.
She is motionless.
I walk endlessly, but she remains out of reach.
Am I dreaming?
Tired, I curl upon the ground, a human snail among the otherworldly vegetation.
I wake to see Diane standing over me, her eyes filled with undeserved love. It hurts to look at it. She shouldn’t be here.
I weep, tears dissolving in the rain and, for the first time, I suffer regret.
Jack had untangled the chute and lowered it overboard when Diane screamed.
The boat had turned its hull to the waves. A wall of water fifty-feet high loomed. When it hit, Diane was swept overboard. Jack had fallen to his knees, desperately clinging to the railing when the sailboat flipped upside down.
Had Diane been wearing her life jacket? He blacked out trying to remember.
Diane’s flesh shimmers with rain.
Warm rivulets cascade over me. I don’t know if they are her tears or raindrops.
“I’m sorry. About never being home, about the other women, about all the times I yelled at you.” I reach for her, and she shatters at my touch.
Shards sparkle as her wreckage mingles with the rain. Soon, I cannot tell her from it. Holding out my hands, I capture wet sharpness. My flesh feels no pain as I bleed, but my heart aches.
I am alone.
I realize Diane has always been my anchor, too late.
Please, come back.
Once, he’d loved her madly.
They’d been high-school sweethearts.
She’d given him her cherry, after prom, in the back of his dad’s Buick Roadmaster. Nothing had ever been sweeter than her shy passion that night, until the day she’d agreed to marry him.
He thought he’d never be happier.
Babies had followed—too soon for Jack’s taste—and life rushed by. College, law school, partnerships, and accolades.
Diane mothered the children. Jack traveled, his team of attorneys gobbling up smaller firms until his reigned supreme. If life was survival of the fittest, he had been king.
She returns. Atop me, her legs part, hugging my hips as she opens to me.
We kiss, breath mingling as our lips touch. I slide into her slick, coddling warmth and am home. We move languidly in the swirling rain, rolling atop green, plush grass. Velvet-soft blades caress us, and lupine blossoms around our tangled bodies.
It’s so beautiful.
“I love you, Diane. I always have.”
“Then stay here with me, Jack. Always.”
“Always. Forever.” I say words I’d said on our wedding day. A new promise to make up for the ones I’d broken, meaning it this time.
Jack woke, storm clouds above and dark-gray sea all around.
He floated alone in the churning ocean, hugged by his life jacket, unable to move. His head hurt.
“Diane!” Something nudged his foot, and he was afraid.
I want to go back. I promised.
Heavy rain pelted him, and Jack gratefully slipped away from cold, frightening reality back into the lush world where Diane waited.
Are we dying?
We come, together—limbs twining like vines, my seed gushing into her vessel—and it seems a resolution has been found and that a new, beautiful life might begin. One with no mistakes, no regrets.
I look into my wife’s eyes, hold her hands, and I am no longer afraid.
Rain spills from the azure sky, washing away sorrow and taking away pain.
Upon an ancient river we float, our bodies clinging together, eternally pleasured and eternally bound.
“Evermore, Jack . . . mine now,” Diane says, pulling me under the waves.
My toes skim pebbles smoothed by time as the water takes me into a dark abyss where violets bloom in currents fed by rain. Never-ending rain.