BY MARSHALL JOHN CHRISTIE
The Rusty Toque | Issue 1 | Fiction | July 2011
One day, in the morning, it happened.
The boy awoke to the sound of rain. He climbed out of bed and ran to look outside. It was pouring. He grinned from ear-to-ear, face pressed against the window. His breath left a spectral fog on the glass, kissing the cold for a second and then dissipating.
His mother had left for work. She had figured him old enough to get ready for school by himself. She had left him his lunch and bus-fare on the counter next to the sink.
However, none of this mattered to the nine-year-old, who had neglected to change out of his pyjamas and was running around the house, looking for his jacket and boots.
Today was the day, he thought to himself.
The rain outside grew stronger.
Donning his rain-wear, he ran down the stairs to the basement. At the bottom of the stairs, he pulled the chain controlling a solitary lightbulb, filling the immediate area with a weak, sickly, yellow glimmer. The rain pelted the window, echoing throughout the basement like an omnipresent hum. He was going to get it. He walked over to his mother's pantry and squeezed his arm behind the far shelf. It was difficult to find it at first. The cobwebs formed a quicksilver curtain that was easily extinguished, but the boy had to reach deeper. Finally, he grabbed it and pulled it out.
A paper boat. Covered in wax and sealant. Big enough to fit a nine-year-old.
He'd worked on it for months, away from the eyes of his parents. It was beautiful. Perfect, even.
It was his.
Rain, rain, rain.
He pulled the paper boat upstairs and unfolded it in the front room of the house. He was going to go sailing for the first time. The rain was torrential at that point. The house sounded like it was surrounded by bees. Cold, liquid bees, buzzing and darting and crashing into the house, exploding all around.
The boy opened the front door and water surged in. The boy was knocked off his feet and send careening into the wall at the far end of the room. Water everywhere. Water on the carpet and the floorboards, and the water was carrying his toys all over the house.
The boy was ecstatic.
He swam his way to the boat and got aboard. He pushed himself past the walls of his flooded house and out the door, skidding down the front steps of his house laughing.
There was water everywhere. The streets no longer existed. They were replaced with long, curving highways of churning, flowing power. The boat skated down the driveway and into the river.
This was freedom, thought the boy. This was what it was like to lose everything.
The water licked the sides of the paper boat like a serpent. The boat was travelling faster and faster by the second. The boy whooped and hollered and felt like a king. He was alive.
The rain continued to fall. Harder.
After floating for a while at the whim of the current, the boy stopped smiling.
He had no way to steer.
The rain was falling harder and harder, and the current was moving faster and faster, and he was out of control.
A strong current began pulling him under. Out of breath already, he tried to fight it, pushing against the current and flailing about until the undertow disappeared.
He rose to the surface.
Everything was gone.
Everything was lost. The pale grey of the spring sky. The boat. The trees. The houses and the cars.
Nothing but rain.
And the boy's tears.
He was face up in the river. Crying.
He'd never find his way home. He'd lost everything. He should have never left.
Hours later, the boy opened his eyes.
He felt a warmth.
Warmth among the grey.
MARSHALL JOHN CHRISTIE has been writing his whole life. He is an English Major at The University of Western Ontario and is working on becoming a freelance singer-songwriter while publishing poetry and fiction. His other interests include philosophy, secular and women's activism, and walking.