It’s a dramatic change, day for night. It happens so slowly, but somehow you always miss that critical point where light becomes dark. One minute the sun’s merely coy, hiding behind the dove grey clouds, the next minute – pfffft – it’s gone.
I’m sitting in my car in a supermarket car park. It’s a fairly small supermarket, a pretty small town and it’s late afternoon. I’m watching the world, insofar as I can see it.
It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas – golden orbs of light illuminating the dark new world like fairy lights for giants. But the festive glow’s distorted by a silent, steady fall of rain. Mist starts creeping up the windscreen. I switch on the radio but don’t want people talking and push button 3.
Then I start to look, really look at the rain. I realise I’ve made assumptions about raindrops. They land, then roll down the window, don’t they?
That one didn’t.
I start to follow individuals and wonder if they’re like snowflakes, each unique. I shuffle down in my seat. It’s getting colder. And they’re just raindrops. I fix my stare on one fat drop that’s clinging to the glass. A small curvaceous blob – not round – it’s not going anywhere. A streak of water zips by. How come Baby Blob just sits there, smug and immobile, while Speedy Gonzales speeds away to nothing?
I concentrate on an empty patch and wait. Like looking for shooting stars.
A drop lands, sidles off sideways, hesitates, darts back the other way. It skirts a couple of other drops and then – just stops.
Now a cannonball’s on the loose. There’s a collision, an amalgamation. Dropzilla. Why isn’t it moving?
I tear myself away and look beyond the glass, out into car-park world. The radio presenter speaks. Each piece in this programme was selected because it was reviled when it was first performed. Ah.
I re-focus on the droplets. Loners doing nothing, going nowhere. Drifters, passing by. Streakers plummeting headlong, gone before they reach the bottom. If I sat here much longer I’d be giving them names.
I’ve been worrying, lately, about how intelligent and sensitive animals are, about whether I ought to stop eating them again (we gave up meat for eight years, spurred on by poverty not principle).
If raindrops have souls am I going to have to stop drinking water?
It’s a thought.