You, But Only Sometimes by Leah Ning

I meet you in the rain, the fat drops slicking our cheeks. We splash in puddles like children. You kiss like thunder: deep enough to shake the earth, even if only a little.

The sun reemerges and sparkles on the wet tar. I turn to see your face sparkle, too, but you’re gone.


I look for you and then I don’t. But I think of the soft slide of your mouth every time it rains, and one day you find me in a cloudburst, and you tell me: this isn’t a choice. It’s a curse.

So I learn to love the rain. I point out wetter cities, but you shake your head and smile. You exist only in the rain. You can’t get on the bus.


I thought your shattered existence was the curse. It wasn’t.

Because, you tell me bitterly, what does water do?

It rots.


There’s no hospital that can treat you, no doctor who hasn’t laughed you off, my sweet rain girl.

I look up countercurses. I bring self-proclaimed witches. None of them laugh, but none can help, either.

You tingle at first, then swell and hurt. Your arms go blotchy and blistered. I’m holding you when your skin begins to slough off.

You die throughout a broken, waterlogged year, curled up on the park bench, your head on my shoulder. And though you’re gone like lightning, you were here like thunder: deep enough to shake the earth, even if only a little.

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