The new season of Wording Wednesday is underway. Fellow author Andy Brokaw collects a set of prompts and puts them out there for the world to use for inspiration. This season, the theme is weather and we continue with the painting "Miss" by Wang Ling, who posts on Deviant Art as wlop.. Check out the links and play along if you'd like, or just enjoy reading.
You can check out my previous posts from this season here: Cloudy, Clear, Sunny
Kiki noticed the boy right away of course.
He was standing right in the middle of the alley, umbrella up, gaze on the ground. Unlike most people caught on the street in the downpour, he didn't seem to be trying to get anywhere or seeking additional shelter. He hadn't moved except to shift from one foot to another during the ten minutes Kiki had huddled under the canopy of the noodle shop waiting to see if the rain would break.
Between the distance and the rain, she couldn't really tell if he was handsome. Not that his beauty should have been her first consideration, but she enjoyed a pleasant view as much as anyone and his fashion-conscious clothes attracted her eye. His stillness was intriguing. He seemed neither to take pleasure in the rain, nor to resent its presence. If not for the umbrella, one might think him unaware of it.
At last the sky lightened, a pinkish glow visible at the end of the narrow street. The rain slowed a little and Kiki decided it was her moment. Her first step into the street thrust her foot into a puddle that was deeper than it had seemed, soaking her boot and splashing water up her bare legs. Though the summer rain was not cold, she shivered, thinking about how dirty the water must be, having collected in the street. She promised herself a hot bath when she got home and chose her next steps more carefully, skirting the brownish pools that filled the potholes.
Her zigzag trajectory took her near the boy and she peered at him as her shoulder passed his. He didn't react to her nearness and disappointment washed over her, even though she hadn't realized she was hoping for something--a bit of adventure maybe, or just a flirtatious exchange of smiles. It was silly. She kept walking.
In the distance, she heard voices calling. "Yoshi! Yoshi! Where are you?"
Struck by the thought that her mysterious stranger might be the Yoshi the voices sought, she turned to look back. The boy had not moved. "Yoshi?"
His head turned just slightly, though he still did not look at her.
She tried again, turning to face him in the street. "Yoshi?"
He spun on a heel, a graceful pirouette that ended in the same position he'd started in, but facing her now. She gasped with delight in his movement, realizing what he was at the same time: a simulacrum, probably wandered too far from its source. That's why it had stopped there. It was at the limit of its scope.
She reached out a hand. "Come, Yoshi. Let's get you back home. They're looking for you."
It lifted its head, the damp hair flipping out of its face. Kiki could see why someone would want to memorialize this boy--he'd been beautiful, with large, clear eyes set widely in an open face. If she had to guess, Kiki would say he'd been a musician or a poet, which might also explain why he'd been lost so young and why someone would have a simulacrum made.
She herself had considered it and might have done it if she'd been a richer woman--though now, after three years of grieving, she thought a simulacrum might do more to keep the pain alive than to help someone heal. It was like volunteering to be haunted. Kiki wasn't sure that it was wise, to hold onto the past so strongly, to refuse to give up the dead. But it was a popular trend, however troubling.
She wiggled the fingers she still held toward the boy and he took them. "Do you know where you live?" she asked.
It nodded and gave her the address. Its voice was indistinguishable from a human voice. She knew the street. It wasn't far from her own. "You know you can't just wander off. You have to stay near your source."
"I know," it said. "It's just…" He paused and they stood together in the rain. Kiki heard the voices calling in the distance again. The simulacrum's face--Yoshi's face--twisted into a grimace. She hadn't known their faces could be so expressive.
"It's just that I make her cry," he finished.