Alex was standing out by the pool. She looked like she'd been swimming in it.
She turned to me slowly, but didn't say a word. Suddenly she broke into a smile and waved to me to come out with her. "Come on, let's sing in the rain!"
"Alex!" I said exasperated, but laughing in spite of myself. "I'll get the umbrella."
I noticed the house was empty the way an intoxicated mind functions: quickly and without hardly any thought attached.
The umbrella helped, but I realized I should have brought my coat too. I could feel my legs getting wet already.
Alex had reverted back to staring blankly into space. "What are you doing out here?" I tried pulling her back to the house, but she wouldn't budge.
"Lida told me to get out of her house, so I did." She spoke matter-of-factly, like this was a normal occurrence.
She sighed. "Oh, Clara. Because I've been sleeping with Rob."
I registered the fact that had I been sober, I would be more appropriately surprised by this news. "What...but...for how long?"
"He doesn't love her anymore," she said, staring into the depths of the pool.
As if that explained everything.
Henry suddenly reappeared, ducking under the umbrella. I could smell his cologne mixed with the rain. It was heavenly.
"Where did you go?"
"To talk to Juliet." He shrugged when I looked at him expectantly. "She doesn't want to talk. Just kept telling me to go away."
Alex laughed. "What are you doing with her anyway?"
Henry looked back at her, stunned. "What do you mean?"
She snorted. "I mean, what are you doing with Juliet when you're really in love with Clara, you ass?"
Henry's mouth dropped open and then closed again as he looked back and forth between Alex and I like he was missing something vital that we were keeping from him. I felt just as shocked as he looked.
"Oh my God." Alex rolled her eyes dramatically and finally moved from her spot by the pool. "I'm going to the car. You guys need to figure your shit out. I'll be there when you're done, Clara."
"To the car?" I said, numbly.
"I don't want to be here anymore. I think I might take a nap, or hell, I'll spend the night in my car for all I care." And with that she was gone.
"Is she serious?" Henry said, staring after Alex. "What the hell happened down there?"
"She and Robert have been sleeping together. Lida told her to leave."
For a long while--at least it felt that way to me--we just stood there under the umbrella. The thunder had stopped.
Finally, I couldn't take it any longer. "Was Alex right? Are you in love with me?"
His eyes turned skittish, never meeting mine, never falling on me for more than a second. He ran his hand through his hair again. "I don't know." He stepped toward the house into the rain. "Can we talk about it inside?" He started for the glass door without waiting for my answer.
"No!" I yelled, throwing the umbrella at him, but missing by a few feet. He stopped in his tracks. "We'll talk about it here!" My mind couldn't catch up with what I was saying long enough for me to feel afraid. "Do you or don't you?"
He thought for a moment. "Are you in love with me?"
His eyes finally met mine. He walked back to me and I thought he was about to speak when a giant boom sounded overhead. We both looked up. There hadn't been any lightning. It couldn't be thunder, it didn't sound right.
"What is that?" Henry said.
Then I heard it too. It sounded like an explosion. The ground vibrated under my feet and then there was a roaring sound so loud it drowned out the pounding of the rain. Just when I thought a missile was falling from the sky, a giant plane--a commercial airliner to be exact--soared over us so close I could see the moving parts of the wheels. One of the engines was smoking. Henry and I watched in horror as it plummeted toward the earth, and crashed into Hollywood.
....to be continued.
....to be continued.