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When It Pours

Carol Scheina is a deaf speculative fiction author from the Northern Virginia area. You'll find many of her stories were dreamed up while stuck in local traffic, and you can read some of them at carolscheina.wordpress.com/

Kelly ventured out of her apartment only because the day's luck rating was extraordinarily high.
The weatherman's baritone voice played in her head: "Folks, we're looking at record luck levels today, with a high of 92 and a low of 89. If you're feeling lucky, there's a reason!"
Kelly was one of those whose luck never matched the predictions, but amazingly, the grocery store trip went fine. Strolling home, she tasted the sweet tease of spring in the February air. The city sidewalks gleamed white, as though the cement had been spread yesterday instead of decades ago, without all those crumbly bits, dried gum, and cigarette butts. Even the pigeons were polite enough not to poop on anyone's head. Lucky days had their own magic.
Except for the dark clouds closing in.
Shit. She'd made it this far without incident. She picked up speed, but her grocery bag gave a soft rip, and almond milk, apples, and pita chips spilled out.
Passersby dodged Kelly as she frantically chased rolling apples. The rain started with gentle drops, then quickly became a cold shower.
"Here." A hand offered a crumpled chip bag.
Through the rain, Kelly saw the most perfect blushing cheeks smiling at her. Despite the chill, Kelly's own cheeks warmed a few degrees.
"Looks like you're having a bad day. Let me buy you a coffee," the woman said.
Kelly said yes without hesitation, without worrying about the dark clouds following her or the almond milk that needed to be refrigerated.
It didn't matter that the barista got her order wrong--giving her some sort of bitter concoction that made her cough. It didn't matter that the rain cloud followed Kelly from the coffee shop all the way home, focusing its hardest downpour on her side of the sidewalk even as it transitioned to a light mist across the street. Crossing the street didn't help, for the rain just shifted, and people crossed the street to the drier section, away from her.
All that mattered was the memory of the woman's smiling eyes over the paper coffee cup. By the time the cup was empty, Mel had proposed dinner tomorrow night--Friday the 13th.
The weatherman's baritone voice rose in excitement as he announced Friday's luck rating: "Our lucky streak continues with a high of 93 and a low of 89! Looks like this Friday the 13th isn't going to be unlucky!"
Kelly stayed inside until dinnertime, for even with the high luck rating, it was better to be safe than sorry when you had her levels of bad luck. Her apartment was pretty secure, anyway, with no mirrors or salt or black cats. Just cheap couches and plastic cups that bounced on the floor when she dropped them. She'd given up hanging anything on the walls, as pictures always fell down anyway.
The sun's cheery twinkling sunset was smothered by dark clouds marching forth when Kelly stepped outside. She ducked inside the restaurant just before the rain started.
She made a quick trip to the bathroom to fix her wind-tousled hair. The sink mirror creaked as it detached from the wall and flopped onto the tile, shattering to pieces like sparkling snowflakes around Kelly's feet.
Uncertainty lumped in her stomach. What was she doing here? She needed to let Mel know this wasn't going to work.
But Mel had already ordered an appetizer. "Oh my god, you need to try this!"
Kelly didn't want to be rude, so she sat down and tried the bread and dip, and it really was that good. As Mel got to talking as fast as an auctioneer, Kelly found herself lost in the wake of words, wandering deep into those eyes and apple-cheeked smile. Kelly didn't even notice that her fish arrived overcooked and her drink order was wrong every time and the rain kept pattering on the windows when the day was supposed to be a beautiful, rain-free, high-luck day.
The high-luck streak continued for three glorious weeks, then the luck levels dropped down to 50, with the lows in the 30s. Kelly knew she had to end things. It wasn't fair for Mel when the dark clouds were bound to get bigger, stronger. Such a beautiful person deserved luck and sunshine and mirrors that stayed hung on the wall.
Kelly couldn't bear to say the words, so she slipped a note under Mel's apartment door. A black cat hissed in the stairway, and Kelly stumbled trying to avoid it, wrenching her ankle before escaping outside. At least the rain gave her an excuse for her wet face.
She didn't open her door when Mel knocked. It was better that way.
There was no rain inside for Kelly to blame for her face. It stayed wet long after Mel stopped knocking.
The lonesome days passed until the weatherman's baritone declared that the day's luck rating would be in the high 80s. Safe enough to risk a trip to the store. Kelly hurried down the pristine sidewalks.
Mel's voice stopped her. "Kelly!"
"Mel? What are you doing here?"
"I've been waiting for you, hoping you'd come out."
"Why? I'm unlucky."
Overhead, dark clouds marched toward them.
Mel's voice raced fast as a train while cold drops dripped from the sky. "I love talking with you, being with you. You care about others, about me. You're just... a greater person than any luck. Want to get a coffee? Please say yes."
Kelly had never been lucky enough to get second chances. How could Mel still want to be with her? Maybe, just maybe, what they had was stronger than luck.
Over Mel's shoulder, Kelly spotted a penny on the sidewalk. She'd never found one before, but she didn't pick it up. Her hand held the warmth of Mel's grip as they strolled through the rain to the coffee shop. She was already the luckiest girl in the world.
The End
This story was first published on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2022

Author Comments

A while back, my son made the observation, "I notice it never rains on Thursdays. Must be a lucky day." With that, Thursday became our lucky, sunny day. If it rained, we clearly needed o throw some more luck at the skies. Then a Codex writing prompt provided a picture of a weather report on St. Patrick's Day, and that inspired me to turn my son's never-raining Thursdays into a story. Because what if we could predict luck like we predict the weather?

- Carol Scheina
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