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A Walk in the Rain

by Martin Green



     It was the usual January weather in the Sacramento Valley, thought Jack Evans, dark, rainy and dismal, appropriate enough for another year of the pandemic. He was in the patio of his house in the Northern Californian retirement community having a second cup of coffee. His wife Blanche was in the front of the house doing one of her watercolor paintings. They hadn’t said much to each other at breakfast.  

     Evans had retired before the pandemic and become a free-lance writer, doing a column for their community’s newspaper and also stories for online magazines. He recalled a story he’d written a few months before about a walk he’d taken on a nice fall day. He’d encountered another retiree working on his front line to get away from his wife, a woman grumbling about not hearing from her children and an old man in a wheelchair ranting about the entire country going to hell.   

     Each of these persons, he’d thought, had been affected by the coronavirus and he’d written a story he’d called “A Pandemic Walk.”

Now he felt that the pandemic had gotten to him. He and Blanche had had a spat last night about what to watch on television. They hadn’t heard from their sons in a couple of weeks. He also felt like the country was going to hell. They called it pandemic fatigue. Of course, supposedly a vaccine was on its way but who knew when it would come. He hoped that like everything else in this crazy time that wasn’t messed up, too.         

     Blanche opened the door to the patio and said, “Let’s go for a walk.”

     “It’s raining.”

     “It’s letting up. Come on. We haven’t been out of the house in weeks.”

     He reluctantly got up. “All right,” he said.

     He went to the closet and found his raincoat, not used since last winter, and a hat.  Blanche was waiting in the hallway in her raincoat and a woolen hat with a tassel. He thought she looked cute. “Let’s go,” she said.

     They walked down into the street. “Where are we going?”  Jack asked.

     “Let’s go to the pond.”    The pond was on the retirement community’s golf course about half a mile away.

     “All right, let’s go.”

     They walked without talking along the silent street. Nobody else was about. One or two cars passed. At the pond all was quiet. No ducks, nothing else. Then Blanche said, “Look, a heron.” It was there, right at the edge of the pond only about six feet in front of them.    The heron must have heard Blanche because it suddenly took off and glided gracefully to the other end of the pond where it landed and stood motionless. Blanche and Jack looked at each other but said nothing for a while. Then Blanche said, “That was nice.”

     “Uh, huh,” said Jack.

     They walked back slowly, hand in hand.

     Maybe I’ll write a story about this, too, thought Jack.


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