Author's Note: So I took some artistic license with this. I hope you enjoy it.
It was already the end of September the day it started raining. It had been an unseasonably hot and dry summer and the leaves in the park were looking tired. The loft had no heat in winter, but it had no air-conditioning in summer either, and the tin roof made the whole place seem rather like a steam-cooker or Mrs. Cohen's hot-plate in the afternoons. The lot was closed off by barbed wire, but seemed doomed to stand empty, forever waiting for a non-existent groundbreaking ceremony.
The storm was not a subtle thing. It spent the entire morning rumbling up on the horizon, spreading black clouds through the sky like a cancerous mass. It was already beginning to get dark when the clouds at last split open, and the wind that kicked up outside seemed alive, determined to shake down the walls of the grubby old building.
Mark comes running into the loft, short blond hair already sopping wet. His glasses are streaked with water, and Roger can't help laughing as his friend fights to close the heavy metal sliding door.
"Windy," says Mark, mostly to break the awkward silence that is already beginning. "Where's Mimi?"
Roger shrugs, tears out the page of his notebook he's been doodling on, and throws it toward the kitchen trash. It misses by a good ten feet. "Downstairs."
Mark shakes his head, dog-like, sending little droplets of water spraying everywhere, and carefully lifts the strap of his bag over his head. "You two have another fight?"
Roger shrugs again and carefully begins drawing a line of little red x's on the fresh page of his spiral. "Dunno."
"Are you sulking?" tries Mark.
"I don't want to talk about it." Roger tears out the page with the x's and throws it the way of the first page. It misses too.
"It's snowing," says Roger.
"How festive," says Mark.
For a moment it's almost as if things are okay again.
"My mom used to say rain precipitates change," says Mark when it is morning again and the storm still has not abated.
"That's cute," says Roger, pulling his spiral from beneath the cushions of the green-brown couch where it has spent the night.
"Change?" asks Mark, confused.
"You calling her 'mom,'" amends Roger.
"Fuck you," says Mark, and Roger throws his pen. Mark catches the pen, and stares at it for a moment. Roger looks absently into a page of his spiral, and Mark notices that he is holding it upside down. He doesn't seem to realize.
"I said 'used to,'" says Mark again after a moment.
"I said 'My mom used to.'" Mark looks pointedly at his friend, as if this should be perfectly clear. "When she used to be my mom."
"Oh," says Roger, and doesn't see at all.
It is almost noon when Mimi shows up, and still raining as hard as ever. She is drenched to the bone, long hair plastered to her back like a sad fur coat. She looks smaller somehow, all big eyes and sharp kneecaps and elbows. Mark notices how her hands are shaking and prays that for once Roger won't.
"Let me get you a towel," says Mark by way of greeting, and sprints off to the corner that functions as combination closet and dresser. The towels are ancient, a sort of non-distinct gray that might once have been any of a spectrum of pastels. But they still absorb water, and that's what matters. Mark hands a towel to Mimi and looks warily at Roger, who is still staring into his precious spiral, searching for the meaning of life.
"Rog?" Mimi takes the towel from Mark and wraps it around her shoulders, wearing it like a very ratty bathrobe. It falls all the way down to her knees.
"I'll just…um…" Mark looks around and notices that there is nowhere for him to go except out into the rain. By all rights it's more his home than theirs, but he still feels the need to give them their privacy. "Clips to edit." Mark flees into the kitchen where he sits, playing blank film through his camera to look busy and listening in despite the stabs of guilt in his stomach.
"Where have you been?" asks Roger.
"In the park." Mark can almost hear the smile in her voice.
"Doing what?" The anger is already fading from his voice. Mimi tends to have that effect on him. The contrary as well.
"Dancing," says Mimi.
"In the rain?"
Mimi just giggles, the sound of her voice blending with the clatter of the rain on the tin roof. Mark smiles at the image of her and Angel dancing, through rain and shine. Never knowing which dance will be the last, not for any of them.
A long time later, the telephone rings.
"Just like a Disney movie," Maureen is saying, on another rainy day that fall. The rain is more distant, this day, a quiet patter on the hospital roof like soft static from Roger's amp. Mark sits with his camera idle in his lap. This is a moment too sacred to film, though Angel has insisted he use it if he feels the inspiration.
"What's that about princesses?" asks Angel weakly. Her nails are painted hot pink today, and Mimi is deftly applying bright gold glitter to her eyelashes.
"You know, in Disney movies," repeats Maureen. "Whenever someone's about to fall in love or something. Or when there's a fight."
"Or when somebody's about to die," says Angel, nodding. Everyone else in the room gets very, very quiet, and Mark thinks Angel must not realize what she has said.
"Yeah," says Maureen finally. "It always rains. That's how you know it's gonna be okay again. Because it's raining."
A couple of nights before Halloween it rains again, and Mark can hear it on the wind. He sits in the loft watching Roger pick at his guitar strings and notices how thin he still is. Mark sighs, and runs through some film clips on his camera. Buzzline footage, all of it. It makes him sick just looking.
When the hands of the old rusty clock are about to converge, the phone rings again, and Mark doesn't need to answer to be sure. The clatter of the rain on the loft's tin roof sounds suddenly rhythmic, like drums. Like the beating of a heart.
Many, many days later, there was a storm that had that sound to it again. Mark sat on the sofa of the now-empty loft and wondered why he ever felt the need to give anyone privacy. Roger's guitar sat in the corner on top of the towels that are no longer needed by anyone, long, long out of tune. The projector from a Christmas Eve a forgotten number of years ago still sat against the wall, concrete proof that true inspiration seldom went far. In front of it were Angel's pickle tub drum, and Collins' prized leather coat. It was like living in a museum sometimes, thought Mark, but he'd sooner stay surrounded by the memories of his friends then let them fade in a forgotten storage vault.
At a rumble of thunder from outside, he got up and blew dust off the projector. It had been years since the thing had been used, and it was a minor miracle that it all still worked. After a few minutes of crossing wires and switching plugs, the ungainly contraption whirled to life. Mark jumped in surprise, not used to the silence in the loft being interrupted.
Suddenly unable to watch, he went to the window instead. The images were there in the glass, wisps of color against the rain running down the panes. Mark smiled just a little at the flashes of red, green, electric blue.
Dancing, all of them.
Dancing in the rain.