Echoes In The Rain by Maggie Lutz

   A white wooden house stood before her. Her stomach churned with anticipation of what was to come next. Her feet willed her forward on this dreary day. The worn-down soles of her feet were cushioned by the dew and mud beneath them. The skies were gray and the fog hung low. The clouds, a light shade of black as they began to open up. A few droplets danced onto the ground before the downpour unleashed. Her heavy feet led her toward the house. The rain refused to touch her.

Her fingers traced the grooves in the wood of the building. Pieces of lumber were exposed by brave flakes of paint that decided to escape into the world. She felt the pace of her heart accelerate as her eyes landed on the window. She placed her hand onto the cold glass, feeling the water droplets scatter from the pressure. Her breath releasing itself at the sight inside.

The lights were lit dimly in the living room, enough to illuminate the area, but not enough to force one to shy away when opening their eyes from a deep slumber. A man sat in a chair; his reading glasses placed delicately on the bridge of his nose. He read a book while the television droned on in the background. Her heart grew warm as she melted into a smile. For just a second, the universe felt as if it had aligned itself once again.

Her eyes drifted to his left hand and saw the absence of a ring. On his right ring finger, rested a familiar band. She twisted the ring upon her left hand and felt the tears start to drip down her cheeks, past her chin. Her eyes wandered to the floor in front of the TV. Toys were illuminated by a commercial listing the side effects of some medication nobody has heard of. A set of toy trains, each decorated in unique vivid colors. Her heart swelled and warmth fled through her body.

Upon the coffee table, next to the man’s mug of steaming tea, sat a handheld gaming device. Game cases scattered the remaining space on the small fixture. A gentle laugh escaped her throat as she shook her head. It’s all there. Just as it had been before. Comfort hugged her as she stood in the frigid rain. A distant voice called from elsewhere in the house. The man responded quickly and took his time to finish his page. He stood tall and grabbed his mug before hurrying out of the living room.

Her heart sunk as comfort unraveled its arms from her body. She willed him to stay as she pressed her hand against the glass once more. Her eyebrows bunched together, and the corners of her mouth collapsed. Please come back she begged desperately. The cold air wove itself into her veins. Footsteps echoed through the house, familiar ones, yes, but not the kind she grew accustomed to hearing every day. Then, the woman came into view.

She walked into the living room and found the remote without having to look, before turning the television off. Her engagement ring glistening in the low light. She smiled as she heard something going on in the kitchen. Meanwhile outside, her body began to undergo a fierce turmoil. Her stomach felt a violent stab of pain, her eyes widened as she screamed in agony. Her lungs begged for air as she felt her guts maliciously being torn apart. Her body threw itself against the window for support. Her hands gripped her stomach praying the pain to ebb away. Blood covered her hands and the ground below her. The white exterior of the house now painted red. Her eyes bore into the skin of her murderer.

The unknowing woman looked around confused, hearing something that nobody else in the house seemed to. Her eyes finally found their way to the window, her blood began to run cold. “Morana…” she breathed, her voice hardly a whisper as it caught in her throat.

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