Chapter 12:

The rain falls hot in your presence

Your Heart has Meaning.

I had realised quickly that the world around me was something I had once taken for granted. While I gazed upon a blood-red sky with eyes that had once been granted visions of fleeting midnight beauty, I had forgotten to remember that those who stood around me were those that had only known Crelle.

They did not know of the stars, or of the emerald hilltops by which cold winds would blow softly. The undine did not know of quiet within the night. The spriggans did not know the beauty of sunshine.

I alone was one who knew peace besides the gentle hum of machinery.

I alone knew of the beauty of the sky.

Yet, as I stood before the playwright whose path I had long walked upon, I wondered if the sky I once knew was something I wanted to show her as well.

I wondered if my heart wanted her to know of my perception of beauty.

Theresia and I had been walking through the gentle streets of Aethine. On a day alike to any other, the bustle of the undine was apparent. Eager to escape the brightness of the sun, the footprints upon the streets were not left for long, covered by another in an instant.

The two of us had ventured out into the city in search of materials for the set of the play. While it was not often that we had needed more paint, we had ran out previously, if only because of the spite of my own incompetence. I had spilled the singular can left as if my brain stood a mess in Theresia’s presence.

As we walked along the street, I looked up into the air suddenly.

The orange-haze in the sky erupted with an intense booming noise. Those same clouds turned dark within an instant, a deep-shade of brown and grey against the smog of the sun. Looking up into the sky, Theresia smiled gently.

“Ah, I suppose its time then...” Theresia spoke softly. “How unlucky of us to be caught out like this.”

“What is it?” I asked of her curiously.

As if impatient to the answer, the air was filled with a thousand droplets of water in an instant. As if the soot had been stripped out of them within the sky, crystalline rain fell quick towards the ground, the lamplight bursting through them so effortlessly.

However, the raindrops against my bare skin were not chilled. A shiver did not cascade through my body in that moment. Each droplet was blindingly warm, not enough to burn my skin, but not cold enough to feel somewhat pleasant. As were all things within Crelle, even the rainfall stood warm and uncomfortable.

The sun would endlessly scorch the surface of the ocean, and the steam that would arise would then settle in the sky as a brightly-lit smog. That smog couldn’t stay constant within the sky, however. Several times a year, that same rainfall would then grow to be too heavy to hold itself within the air, and fall gently down onto the surface below. In doing so, it would leave behind all of its impurities.

The soot, ash, and sediment would be torn from each droplet upon descent. It was the natural purification process that supplied a large-majority of the drinking water within Aethine.

I pulled the cloak of midnight from my back, for I could bear the droplets upon my skin.

In parallel, against the warm touch of the rainfall, Theresia seemed to shiver softly. The nature of the rain had soaked clean-through her white-coloured blouse, leaving her bare-skin exposed against the open air. With the cloak I held within my hands, I draped it gently over her shoulders. She accepted it with a softness in her eyes, and I too smiled in return.

It was a kindness unspoken.

It was better left that way, for as I turned away from her, I could feel the expression upon my face grow red-hot.

“I suppose it’s too far now...” Theresia whispered softly. “We’re too caught out, and the theatre still stands such a distance...”

“Hm?” I pondered curiously, tearing my gaze away from the rainfall as I met her divided expression.

“Well, there’s no helping it.” Theresia sighed. “We’ll have to go over to my place of residence to escape the rainfall, won’t we?”

I could feel my once-flushed expression grow brighter and more blushed in an instant.

We quickly came to a building nestled within the collection of towering sculptures against the main street of Aethine. As if it was insignificant, it looked wholly in its place. Illuminated by lamplight, the two of us walked into a nestling amidst the copper pipework of the walls. Every pipe seemed to steam and creak against our touch, and I was cognisant of each one that I brushed up against, afraid that I would sear the flesh of my skin amidst my own incompetence.

Suddenly, the pipework gave way to concrete, and concrete to plastered flooring. The doorway was like any other, despite its having been hidden within such an unnavigable maze.

The interior of her home was intensely different from its exterior, however. Every item she owned, which was not much in number, had been carefully put away in its place. Within Theresia’s home, I felt as if I stood within a marketplace. It was too carefully organised to be considered homely.

“You can shower first.” Theresia smiled, looking over towards me as she slipped the blackened cloak off of her shoulders.

It was a concept I myself had not held an experience of. Standing underneath the warm droplets of a faucet suspended high above me, it felt as if I was standing under a bout of rainfall that had been captured for my own experience. I realised then that the endless pipework of Aethine served this purpose alone. It would have been a relaxing experience, had the world not been burnt a faint-warm as a constant. It was within Crelle that I began to miss the blinding-cold of the wintertime.

She had allowed me to change into her clothes. While we were not the same height, her linens seemed to fit me fine, at least in a casual manner. While she took her turn amidst the warm water of the shower, I sat gently by the windowsill, staring out at the greyed-out sky still illuminated harshly by the eternal sun.

While Theresia had been showering, I was left to wonder. A person’s home often told much about them, but Theresia’s was wholly lacking. It was as if she lived the majority of her life standing up, always staying away as if she feared the silence it brought. With that thought I began to wonder- when was it that Theresia was able to sit down and wring the tension from her shoulders?

Did the playwright ever truly take a break?

“I wish the haze would move away, and reveal to me a light-blue ocean of clouds above the mountaintops.” I spoke softly, staring dutifully out the window as if it would happen at any moment.

Theresia walked up behind me, dressed anew with a refreshed smile upon her face.

“When you gaze upon the sky, you hold a grief within your eyes as if it is one you do not know...” Theresia whispered in response.

“If I were to mention in passing towards you that the moon is beautiful, would you then understand its meaning?” I asked of her.

She simply shook her head in response.

“No, for I do not understand what a ‘moon’ is…” Theresia spoke softly. “But if it is anything as beautiful as the ‘stars’ that you have shown me, then perhaps I can understand slightly.”

“No.” I laughed. “It’s nothing like that in its meaning.”

I let out a soft yawn in that moment, my arms stretching high behind me as I sought to tear the fatigue away from my aching bones.

“You must be tired now... you’ve been working on the set, haven’t you?” Theresia smiled. “I’m sure you have the wood splinters within your fingers to prove it.”

My fingers had been bandaged gently. I was not used to working with my hands, and my carelessness became apparent upon my forever-scratched palms. I had been putting an intense amount of effort into my work as her assistant, for a reason my heart could still not grasp.

“Sorry to cause you so much trouble, Agreste.”

“All good things cause trouble.” I smiled. “Sticking around for all of them is what makes them worth it. I will not leave you, so that I may experience all of the good things about you.”

“And what are the good things about me?” She asked with a curious expression.

“Nearly all of you.”

Her face filled with an unparalleled blush in that moment, her cheeks red as roses underneath the orange lamplight. She could only nod in return as she looked away from my gaze.

“I’ll be leaving now.” I spoke simply, standing up from where I had been sitting beside the windowsill.

“Won’t you stay?” Theresia asked suddenly.

“Why is it you would ask that much of me?” I wondered.

“It is hard to realise you are alone, until you are not.” Theresia spoke softly. “I do not often return home. The dull quiet is unbearable. But perhaps with you here, I could sleep a night soundly...”

In a near-moment of time, I had been roped into the scheme of the playwright. I had tried to lay down beside her bed, but she had refused me the floor adamantly. As if I was some sort of stuffed-toy, I had been placed gently in her own bed, cuddled up against me as if the warmth of my body was not unbearable within the heat of Crelle.

Her fingers rested gently against my chest, and her legs seemed to entwine with my own. To feel Theresia so close, I could not summon a single thought, for my brain had grown completely hazy.

My endless thoughts had grown quiet against her touch.

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