by Emily Dietrich

Night Walk

If you happened to be driving along West Lake Sammamish Parkway Northeast on the rainy night of September 30, 2013, your headlights would have missed the sodden figure in the unlit bike lane. You may have caught a silhouette against a recycle bin, cast there by the orange beam of an infrequent street light, a hatless, linear silhouette, not rounded out by an umbrella’s amble capacity to block the light or the rain. With no other being to on the street, or out, or anywhere near, except inside its home, under its shelter, you might have had a moment to wonder why this human, who appeared to walk unencumbered by illness or any impediment to normal ambulation and velocity, walked hatless and hoodless, in no hurry to relieve his head or her head from the torrent that made your car an unpleasant place in which to listen to the music you had chosen. Perhaps you would have speculated that this person suffered from a malady daily maligned on Facebook, that of stupidity, or from a generally sad but somewhat sweet imperviousness to common sense, or the kind of obliviousness often attributed to those approximating the status of genius. Is it possible, you may have wondered, that she (you might have settled on that gender, seeing in your mind’s eye a flash of pink when recalling her) left her umbrella at the home where she had just dined? Or that when she walked there, the weather had been clear, and rain gear uncalled for? But if that were the case, wouldn’t her host or hostess have offered a ride? But perhaps the offer was indeed made, but politely declined? What could have made her decline such an offer given the volume of water and the air around it chilly enough to have prompted you to use your car’s heater for the first time since May? Had she been in danger? Was her host unpleasant? Then it may have seemed obvious that of course her host and hostess had been drunk, too drunk to drive, and too drunk to recognize her polite decline as anything but representative of their guest’s characteristic idiosyncracies, accepting her protestations that she did so enjoy a walk in the rain, didn’t they? You may then have had to quell an impulse to turn around and see if you could offer her a ride with the recognition that in this day and age few humans, no matter how soaked, would trust a stranger from out of the blue, out of the simple kindness of the heart or general concern for a fellow human’s discomfort, without expectation of reward on earth or in the hereafter, to offer to help, leading to an awkward and mutually distasteful refusal of the offer, and a subsequent bitterness or subtle sorrow to the rest of the evening.

In this last, you would have been right. The walker wanted no ride. The walker did indeed want to walk in the rain, and to walk alone, and even to be cold. The rain was hiding her tears, you see, and upon return to her home, the cold drop and air could explain her reddened face, usually irrefutable evidence of the hard kind of crying she would always have preferred to keep to herself. She needed above all things just then to be walking alone in the dark, hard and cold rain.

Author: Emily

Emily Dietrich is a poet, novelist, and mystery writer.

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