LUWUM HAD ALWAYS HAD a fascination with the rain. Even though he knew how the physics and chemistry came together to make the skies weep, he still felt like he knew next to nothing about the rain.
On that day, its behaviour was extra confusing; the sun had put in a snarling appearance from morning till noon, then the first tentative drizzles had come, slicing through the sunlight like shy dancing maidens, pretending they were not going to return a few minutes later for a round two which would obliterate any memory of the day’s scorching heat.
The downpour was even but incessant, like a drawn out Lingala song. Luwum was trapped in the shop, staring out of the door over the heads of the people taking refuge under the shop’s veranda, when he saw her.
She was a gust of wind in a vacuum – unexpected, alien and magical. Where everyone else ran, ducking to avoid the chilling touch of the storm, she danced. With bare feet and wild hair, she moved in the middle of the tarmac road to the rhythm of the rain. Her laughter was a child’s innocence, but the way her wet clothes stuck to her curves told tales of decadent womanhood.
Luwum’s breath seized up in his chest. How did the people who ran past her do it? Couldn’t they see her beauty, a force more powerful than nature’s tantrums? Why weren’t they frozen in place by her magnificence?
When her gaze lifted and caught his over a raggedy yellow hat, Luwum realized that she was there for him. He moved out of the shop and through the crowd like a man possessed. He didn’t feel the rain as it hit his shoulders, his bare scalp, his pointed nose which stood away from his face.
Dance with me, her eyes said, and her teeth flashed in a smile as she gathered up her skirt around her knees and danced. He heard the laughter behind him, the voices of the people saying, “See this man dancing alone in the rain in the middle of the road.”
Luwum did not blame them. It was not their fault if they were not deserving enough to bask in the splendor of her beauty. The tarmac was warm beneath his feet, emitting the vestiges of the sun’s blistering kiss. Her joy was a luminous glow in her eyes.
With the rain for harmony and the thunder for a beat, he danced with her. He danced until his clothes were soaked through, all the way to his underwear. He danced and danced, until his legs gave and his heart followed shortly after.
The ambulance came half an hour later to carry away Luwum’s smiling corpse. The people who had watched him dance clamoured to give their version of the story to the news crews which had gathered. Up above the emptied clouds, his soul danced with a woman with bare feet and wild hair, finally free of the tethers of the corporeal world.
About the Author:
Innocent Immaculate Acan is a third year medical student with the spirit of writing in her blood. She was the winner of the 2016 Writivism Short Story Prize and has been published by Omenana and Afreada. She’s currently working on a collection of short speculative fiction stories.
Innocent Immaculate Acan’s “Rain Dance” first appeared in Love Stories from Africa, a Brittle Paper-published anthology of flash fiction edited by Nonso Anyanwu and with an Introduction by Helon Habila.