Rain had just gotten off the phone with Nurse Elizabeth who had called to give her the numbers of her current thyroid hormone level, and then she sat down to do some more mental pondering. She was in a state of indecision as to whether or not to tell Troy about the fake Facebook account. For now, she decided to hold off unless their home or anything like that were to be invaded.
She listened to the details of Troy’s business trip down in the L.A. area and tried not to let thoughts of the bogus account distract her. If she thought about it too much it would eat at her peace of mind.
She helped her husband unpack what little he’d taken with him, and life went on as usual. Rain continued to spend many of her afternoons with the doctor. They always had interesting things to talk about and she loved helping her in her garden and learning new recipes from her.
What she didn’t like was how the doctor seemed to take it a bit hard when she wasn’t able to visit with her. It was nothing she said, but the look in her eyes and the tone of her voice were enough to make her feel both guilty and annoyed. She just didn’t get it. She really thought that the doctor would have more people to hang out with. So what was it about her in particular? Was she simply the first choice being right across the street and therefore more convenient?
Things really got strange one day when she happened to be over when Amy, her daughter, came over. Rain took an instant disliking to the woman. If it weren’t for her perfect teeth she might wonder if she was on drugs. She was incredibly thin for one pushing forty and she had a very hardened look about her.
Rain was coming out of the bathroom when she overheard her and her mother talking in the kitchen.
“Mom, she’s married and she’s just five years older than Jimmy, three years older than Pamela, and two years older than me.”
What the hell?
Rain took her time working her way through the living room and back to the kitchen so she could hear more of the conversation.
“Yes, I know how to count. What point are you trying to make, Amy?”
“Oh, come on, mom. I wasn’t born yesterday or the day before. Any idiot can tell you like her.”
“Well, of course I like her. She’s a nice person so what’s not to like? Now just worry about yourself and help me get this box packed, will you?”
Rain entered the room as the doctor and her scary-looking daughter, who now looked both furious and mean as hell, packed some old household items into a box, which Rain assumed was going home with Amy.
Amy flashed her an evil look that Rain pretended not to notice. She had been prepared to let it go and just play nice.
Until she was left without much choice.
“Are all your friends nearly twenty years older than you?” Amy asked her.
Rain shrugged and said, “Age is just the number, though I prefer them to be over eighteen.”
“Come on, Amy… Rain…” Julia lectured, though it wasn’t without a hint of amusement on her face.
“My mother oughta be hanging around people her own age.”
Ring giggled, “Well, then that certainly makes you less qualified than me.”
“Quit deciding who I ought to be hanging with, Amy, and close this box up for me.”
“At least my cat is younger than me,” Rain laughed. “Does that count?”
“Rain… Amy…” the doctor warned again. “You two haven’t known each other more than an hour and already you sure create a real rainstorm together, huh?”
“It was storming when I was born,” Rain said. “So, at the last minute, my mother decided to name me Rain. She said that calling me Amy or Amy would be like seeing the glass as half empty while calling me Rain would be seeing it as half full since Rain replenishes things and causes growth and maturity. Especially the latter.”
Julia tried not to laugh while Amy continued to glare at her as if she were an unwanted intruder that had a hell of a nerve spending time with her mother. Rain wasn’t exactly sure what her problem was with her, but after a while, she got sick of it and decided it was time to leave and slough off the smell of drama thick in the air. She had enough drama from other sources in her life.
Later that evening, Rain went online, and as always, she felt apprehensive about what she might find. However, nothing was out of the ordinary that particular night. No strange messages. No strange comments on her blog. No odd friend requests.
Every now and then she got some strange comments left on her blog, but whenever she checked her tracker’s visitor list, no one appeared to be listed at the time of the comment. She still hadn’t mentioned it to Troy. The only one she mentioned it to was Julia. She realized it could be anybody.
The following evening was as warm and dry as the summers usually were in the area. Having been too hot earlier, Rain decided it would be an ideal time for a bike ride while Troy watched a reality show that Rain had no interest in. TV simply shouldn’t be reality unless you were watching the news.
“Be careful out there, hun. It’s Friday night, so there’s more traffic.”
“It’s getting dark too, so remember your bike lights.”
“Yes, sir. Back soon.”
Rain had pulled her bike out of the garage and was walking it down the driveway, wheels clicking softly as they turned, when she saw the doctor placing some outgoing mail into her mailbox. “Hey, Doc,” Rain called.
The doctor turned and looked her way. “Oh, good evening. And how is the rain part of the storm?”
Rain laughed. “Fine. Want to go for a ride with me?”
Julia hesitated, “Well, where do you think you’ll be going? You going to be riding for long?”
“I was going to go down to the Square, yes. It was too hot earlier and I’m tired of being cooped up indoors, so it will be a while. Like forty minutes or so.”
“I’d like to,” said the doctor, “but I twisted my ankle earlier and I should probably just relax.”
“Oh, okay. Anything I can help you with?”
“No thanks, hun. Just be careful out there and have a nice ride.”
“I will. Since it’s the weekend I’ll probably catch you next week.”
“I’ll be here,” said the doctor as she turned and headed for her front door with a slight limp.
Rain pedaled down the street. Little did she know that the next time she saw the doctor it would be a lot sooner than next week and it would be under anything but pleasant circumstances.
She casually rode down the residential streets, large California Oaks providing a natural canopy over the streets. The direct sunlight was gone, though Rain still had enough visibility.
She took note of the various styles and sizes of the homes that she passed, some with well-manicured lawns, others with grass and shrubs in need of trimming. Where most of the yards had been nice and green, now they were wheat brown due to the drought that caused most Californians to conserve water.
Kids were out playing in some of the front yards while dogs could be heard giving hell from the backs of some of the homes. This was something she didn’t get, but it was actually quite customary to keep dogs outdoors in the west, and most people that had dogs there liked them large and loud.
Where people usually hung out in the back of their homes in the east, they preferred the front in the west.
Rain headed for the town square and then circled back through the grid, heading home at a faster speed. By the time she reached her street, she was hot and sweaty and looking more than forward to a shower. The thought of the cool water cascading down her naked body was about as appealing as a candy bar was to someone who just spent months on a diet.
She guided the bike into the garage, kicked the kickstand into place, and then entered the house. She heard the droning of the TV coming from the other end of it as she quickly made her way into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator. She pulled out a pitcher of lemonade that she made up earlier and poured herself a huge glass of it. She had really worked up a thirst, but could only drink it so fast because she was still out of breath from exerting herself.
With each swallow of the sweetened drink she took, the more a bad feeling came over her and settled in the pit of her stomach.
Why hadn’t Troy called out to her?
She heard a commercial about a hair care product begin on the TV.
“Troy?” she called again only to be ignored.
The sinking sensation she’d begun to feel intensified. Calm down, she told herself. He’s probably just in the bathroom.
But their duplex was small and she could see part of the bathroom door from where she stood. No one was in the bathroom. The door was ajar and the light was off inside of it.
Swallowing her feeling of dread, she set the glass down on the counter and headed into the living room.
A few seconds later she screamed and screamed and screamed…