Rain drowned the world in white noise. Sarah would have preferred snow, to muffle the world into a tensionless silence, but it didn’t snow here. Rain was rare enough. She listened to it tap against the window, hum on the roof, and decided to be grateful for the way it barred her from everything outside her living room walls.
She didn’t have an easy time keeping herself away from others; she invited them into every moment. Her phone was always in her hands. Her car was always gassed up. She left work, exhausted, and took her rest in a shared drink and a long, loud conversation. Alone was never a state she wanted to settle into, but she knew she needed it just now. It didn’t matter how quick she had trained herself to be, how easy she had made it to keep her own mind sitting right next to another opinion.
She was uncertain now, and she needed the quiet.
Padding into the kitchen, Sarah listened to the change in the rain’s tone, rattling somewhere in the piping over the stove. It rustled with the wind too, metal clanking as it was dragged up and down. The storm outside was strong enough that it sounded a bit like the drum beat of a song, a children’s practice piece, played improperly. She made herself a cup of hot chocolate, listened, and smiled to herself. Then she padded back out to the living room.
For an hour, she sipped at that hot chocolate. Sarah sat on the couch and cradled it to her chest, watching the shadows of the water om the windows play across the floor. When the mug was empty, she cradled it still, and she tucked a blanket around her feet to keep them warm.
Her phone was in another room when it went off. The simple bell of a text message. The living room was growing dimmer, the rain still pattering on the ceiling, while the sun disappeared slowly. Sarah considered staying where she was.
For a minute. For five minutes.
Then she pulled the blanket to the side, left the empty mug in the kitchen, and went to find her phone.
There were a dozen messages waiting from earlier in the day. The latest was from Adam, and Sarah tapped the screen to open it.
Well? Adam said.
She considered the screen. I don’t know, she typed back. She ran through a few other sentences she could add, then simply hit send. There was a few minutes pause. Adam had walked away from his phone while she hesitated, perhaps. She wandered back to the living room and dragged the blanket up to her chin to wait.
She let that hang for two seconds, three, four, then started typing and didn’t stop:
I like your tone, Mr. :) It says, ‘Sarah, you’re a full grown woman. I know how well you know yourself. You know whether you want to move two thousand miles away or not. Go get it.’ (Yes, I read into things, go with me here.) I THINK I know myself. I think I know what I want. But sometimes I wake up in the morning and want chocolate chip cookie dough for breakfast, and then an hour later I realize what I actually wanted was have cookie dough for dinner, so I could feel fat and lazy at nine at night instead of nine in the morning. What if what I think I want NOW, I actually want later?
There was shorter delay this time.
You want to move? Adam asked.
Sarah sighed down at her phone. And started typing again.
I THINK so. But maybe I don’t yet. Maybe I want to move when I’m thirty. Or sixty. Or ninety. I think I’m going to be very ready to have adventures when I’m ninety. I told you I’m going to dye my hair purple and drive a pick up truck then, right?
Adam replied, I want to see that.
Stick around. You can dye your hair green and be my sidekick.
Deal, Adam said. I’m coming with you.
Sarah stared. Took a breath. Stared some more. She hesitated before responding, just in case she had read it wrong. Just to give herself another moment before he told her that she had read it wrong.
You’re coming with me?
Yes. No jokes. I’m packing right now.
She didn’t pause at all: I love you.
He said: Do I need to buy snow boots?
And a minute later: (I love you more.)