Chapter 11 in Rainstorm

  • June 30, 2022, 11:15 p.m.
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Part Two
The Doctor

Six Weeks Later

57-year-old Julia Linden had taken a month off from her endocrinology practice in Sacramento in order to do something she hadn’t expected to do for another 25 years or so, and that was to bury her husband. Emmett had died so suddenly and so unexpectedly. She was still functioning in a fog, unable to get the reality of it all to sink in.

It had been an ordinary evening not unlike any other. They were both sitting in the living room, her playing slots on Facebook, him watching TV. She had just reached the highest level yet when Emmett started to make these strange guttural sounds. At first, Julia thought Emmett had swallowed wrong. But then he clutched a hand to his chest and she could clearly see the look of surprise, panic, and pain on his face.

He was gone before the paramedics even arrived.

Friends and family had rallied around her to offer their support, but all she really wanted was to retreat into a little shell of her own. She lost herself anywhere she could… in her garden, on Facebook, cooking in the kitchen… anywhere and anything to distract herself.

After two months since Emmett’s passing, she realized something. She could either go on living as she had, which basically meant not living at all, or she could find a way to get on with her life, even if her life would revolve around little more than work and a fairly decent size house that she would have all to herself. Others tried to talk her into getting a pet, but not even that idea appealed to her.

Julia wasn’t about to kill herself, so she figured she might as well go on living if only for the sake of her two daughters, Amy and Pamela. So what if one of them was on the other side of the country in New York.

Another month after Emmett’s passing, she would learn that it wasn’t she who would change her life, but someone else who would end up doing that for her. She just wouldn’t realize it right away because that person was the last person she would guess would ever take the honors.

It started when a block party was taking place as it did on the first Sunday of every May. She had been so down and out of it that she never even paid any attention to the new neighbors who had moved into one of the duplexes across from her house. One could then imagine the shock she felt when she learned that one of the newcomers was a patient of hers, 40-year-old Rain Rudkin. She’d only seen her once.

Rain was a somewhat anxious person who’d had some negative experiences getting started on her thyroid medication. The experience left her rather traumatized, but she seemed to be slowly coming around again and readjusting to her medication as far as she knew from the records that had been transferred to her from the other side of the country. She didn’t know much more about her. All she knew was that she had a personal blog and did some proofreading for various online companies.0

Rain once said hello to her on Facebook, and out of curiosity she visited her profile page and stumbled onto the blog from there. She learned that she was from Massachusetts and seemed to be on the liberal side.

She sat quietly on her lawn chair as the neighborhood folks buzzed about her. Her gaze came to settle upon Rain and her husband as they moved about introducing themselves to the neighbors. Julia smiled politely whenever her next-door neighbor, that had practically dragged her out of the house, spoke to her.

A moment later Julia saw her husband pull a cell phone out of his pocket, glance at it, and then he took the call. A few seconds after that, he said something to Rain and then went inside their place. Rain settled on a chair and began talking to a woman in her thirties that Julia had seen around but never actually spoke to before as she nibbled on some of the food that she had no appetite for.

After a few minutes, the woman Rain had been talking to got up from her chair and walked over to one of the tables. Rain then finished her food, dumped her tray, and then appeared to study the people around her as if in search of someone. While Rain smiled and appeared to be happy and polite towards those she communicated with, clearly something was eating at her and making her nervous. The doctor continued to watch as Rain scanned the area apprehensively. She wondered just what it was that could have Rain so on edge. This wasn’t social anxiety of any kind from what she could tell. Instead, Rain seemed to be looking for something she would rather not find.

She jumped, startled, and then someone came up behind her and began talking. Just like before, she put on a smile and made like nothing was wrong. The doctor wondered if perhaps Rain was trying to avoid a neighbor that she didn’t like, but since she hadn’t even lived there for an entire week yet, she doubted that was the case.

A part of her hoped that Rain never discovered they were neighbors because she wasn’t sure she felt very comfortable with a patient of hers being right smack across the street.

The so-called secret was out soon enough, however, after Rain finished her drink and strode over to a trash bin near where she sat to dump the cup. She glanced at the doctor and started to turn away. Then she quickly turned back again and studied the doctor.

“Doc Linden, is that you?”

“Yeah, it’s me. I thought I recognized you at first but wasn’t sure,” the doctor lied.

“Oh, wow,” said Rain. “You live here?”

“Sure do. So you’re the one that just moved in across the street from me?”

Rain gazed at her place and then her head swung across the street to her own house. “Troy and I just moved in actually. You mean you live right there?” she asked, nodding to the structure across from hers.

“Yep,” Julia said with a nod.

“Wow. Like just wow.”

“Guess they weren’t kidding when they said it’s a small world after all, huh?”

Rain chuckled and said, “I guess not. Have you lived here long?”

The doctor nodded again. “Twenty years.”

“Just you?”

“It is now. I lost my husband a few months ago.”

Rain’s expression quickly turned to that of sympathy. “Oh, no. I’m so sorry to hear that, Doc.”

The doc gave a barely visible nod of courtesy, and then she felt a bit sorry for the woman who didn’t seem to know what to say next. “You’ll like it here,” the doctor told her. “It’s very peaceful.”

“That’s nice to know. I do like my peace.”

Julia gazed up at Rain. She looked lovely in her colorful sundress. She complained of the extra weight she hadn’t been able to lose due to her disease, but she still seemed healthy enough. Her sparkling light eyes and long caramel brown curls shone brilliantly in the sunlight. She scratched her face for a brief second with a long hot pink fingernail with some kind of glitter topcoat. Julia asked more out of politeness than curiosity about how she’d been feeling lately.

“Great, as long as I’m not on Prozac or experiencing any pocket flares within my thyroid.”

The doc almost smiled. She suspected that something else was going on in Rain’s life to contribute to the anxiety. Her current dose of thyroid medication couldn’t possibly make her anxious with the level of thyroid hormone her thyroid was now producing, which was next to none, according to the last blood test she’d had before she moved into the state. They were awaiting the latest results from a blood test she’d recently ordered.

“You’re definitely a better Endo than amateur shrink,” Rain said with a smile.

“Yeah, that’s why I referred you to someone who could help with the anxiety part.”

Rain laughed and said, “Just not being on the wrong medication or too much of what I am on helps. It’s definitely a relief to be feeling better.” A few seconds of silence passed and then Rain asked if she could get her anything.

“No thanks, but you should know that in light of us discovering that we’re neighbors I’m going to have to pass you along to another doctor.”

“Oh, ok. I understand. At least I think I do since I don’t expect to see much of you unless you’d like to be friends. And I have a feeling you could use a friend right now, even if I’m a bit younger.”

Julia couldn’t help but laugh at that one. “Thanks, though it’s basically just knowing a patient of mine was right across the street that would feel a bit strange to me. I have someone who’s very competent that I can refer you to.”

“No problem,” said Rain as she turned to head toward her house. “Just try to pass me off onto another woman if you can. I’m a bit sexist.”

The doctor sat watching Rain’s figure retreat further away, not sure what to make of the unexpected yet honest comment.

“That’s the most I’ve heard you laugh in months,” she heard another neighbor say as she approached her.

It was then that the doctor decided that having Rain for a neighbor might actually be a rather interesting experience.


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