It’s raining outside. My window is open, just like Mom suggested. I did
open it last night. Then I closed it this morning when I got up because
it was raining very hard. I guess she came up and opened it again this
afternoon when it was sunny, before it started raining again.

I was standing on one of the concrete benches surrounding the fountain at
school when the sun was shining. I was very surprised to find it warm and
sunny when I came out. “It was raining this morning, wasn’t it?” I said
from the other side of my sunglasses to a random girl standing outside the
snackshop. “Very hard,” she coughed vehemently. The sun was still
shining when I came back out after spending some time in one of the piano
practice rooms, script in hand, and mounted the concrete bench. From my
perch, I practiced my lines under my breath, gesticulating at the fountain
and pausing whenever I forgot what came next to look up into the sky,
where small clouds were being bullied by the wind into dashing across the
intermintant blue. West, I thought, then corrected myself. Southwest.
That means more rain. And the rain came. It is raining now.

“Joanna!” hollered Melissa from behind her sunglasses all the way over by
the parking lot. I glanced up from behind mine to look at her. “If
someone didn’t know you were practicing lines, they’d think you were
crazy!” “So?” In fact, people who passed by gave me a good deal of room
after looking up uncomfortably. Whenever a theater major passed by, I
began where I was out loud so they could hear. “I guess he can beat me if
he wants to!” I shouted at a pudgy girl with wire rimmed glasses I’ve
talked to but don’t know by name. “I tell you, I LOVE to have him beat
me!” “Practicing lines,” she understood, “Been there, done that.”

“In my opinion he’s the best doctor in the world!” I insisted to
Elizabeth. “We have class, dear,” she informed me as her companion stared
in puzzlement. I collected my things and followed a few moments later.

“What is this?!” Dr. Khokhlova shrieked excitedly when I walked into the
classroom. She always shrieks excitedly. “What’s wrong with you? You
look like a shadow!” If I’m capable of smiling wanly, I probably did so
then. The good thing about Dr. K. is that if she shrieks a question at
you and you don’t answer immediately, she’ll either answer the question
herself or else change the question and then answer it. I shrugged and
tried to figure out which desk was mine as she moved on to altering and
answering her own question.

I knew exactly what was wrong with me as I slumped there in my desk. My
stomach was all in knots. My brain was still smoldering from a
conflagration, smoke from the dying embers filling my glazed eyes, my
unhearing ears.

People kept asking me how I was, as if I could tell them. How can you
describe the feeling when your stomach has been ripped in half? “You
don’t want to know,” I’d say after a moment’s hesitation. Or, “I’m not
answering that question today.” “Why not? What’s wrong,” asked Dion. I
know her name is Dion because I looked on the sheet of new recruits to the
history and political science club and found out what it was. Beforehand,
I knew her as the cool chick in the Presidency and Congress class. I
liked her the first time I saw her. She has twins and a husband, who came
to class with her today. But she asked me how I was anyway. Maybe my
face begged it. I don’t know. I don’t think she’s asked me before. My
suspicions about liking her were substantiated when I asked her suddenly
one day this week, “What do you think, does the Dave Matthews Band have an
upperclass appeal?” She was silent a long while, and I was afraid I had
asked for too much, when she nodded slowly and said, “Yes, I think it
does.” I was amazed. There aren’t many minds on campus that will admit
to working like mine.

All the same, I wouldn’t tell her how I was today. I didn’t tell Paul
either, though I desperately wanted to. He didn’t ask either. He never
asks. He greets everyone else he knows with a “How’s it going?” but never
me. He knows better. And I wouldn’t want him to.

So I’m here with the light on, looking out the open window at the light
rain and punctuated lightning momentarily illuminating the slowly
darkening sky.

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