The choreography was perfect. Gainly and evanescent, each drop on each umbrella in each hand danced ballroom in the street: a river carrying black octagonal leaves from the concrete trees upwind. For him, it was relentless, and for him, it was peaceful routine. For the rain, it was pinball after lunch. For him, the rain was frightening, and for him it was mystical, and for her it was a way to make up for not crying. Someone directed them, this leaf, that leaf along the road—not the signals in the street, not the time of day really, maybe the wind? The black leaves pirhouetted in the wind.
It was the fourth in a series of weepy rainy days, and everyone had decided to walk today. Yes, everyone. There were no cars in the streets, just people in identical scarves and umbrellas (they all matched!) rushing briskly to work, or to school, or to the butcher on Main Street, or to who knows where. If all these people with important things to do would have stopped suddenly and listened to the rain, they would be deafened, such was its magnitude, but they weren’t paying attention.
Toward noon, the crowd became so thick that people started brushing umbrellas with each other, and it became thicker when hundreds of people stopped to apologize to each other for it, shake hands, wish each other a nice day and good luck at the office, or the elementary school, or with each other even, and get on again. It became so bad that there was hardly any elbow-room, and so chaotic an activity of apologizing that no one could go anywhere or do anything but complain about it.
Suddenly there was a shriek that paralyzed the crowd and, observed by all, a dripping eye dangled from the spoke of an umbrella, plucked accidentally from one of the too-close passersby, observing back.