When I was still in Saint Louis, some college friends and I would get together every Wednesday, usually at a dive called “Cousin Hugo’s.” We were technically a writing group. On a rainy day, based on the complaints of one of my friends, we decided the week’s exercise would be about puddles. This is what I produced:
When I was young, puddles meant joy. Puddles meant splashing in my goulashes and feeling the water jump out from under my feet and all around me. It meant riding in the back seat of Mom and Dad’s car, hoping that one of them wouldn’t or couldn’t veer away from the stream of puddles in the curbside and thus make a wave far away from any sea-side.
As I grew older, puddles only meant it rained. It meant jumping across uneven portions of the sidewalk to avoid the water which pooled in them. That used to be fun—some altered mini-version of hopscotch. But by the time I was twelve such fun was to be considered childish and scorned, and puddles became an annoyance.
Puddles grew to be a larger annoyance in my adolescence, up through my adult years. Puddles would mess up my new converse on school days and my black pumps on date nights. I, like my mother and father before me, avoided puddles in my car so as not to ruin my breaks or rust out my exhaust pipe. Puddles meant it was a pain in the ass to leave my house, my dorm, my apartment.
There was only one puddle I was fond of in that time—the puddle that formed under my car door when it rained while I was in class. Normally, I hated these puddles, and despised them as sneaks and hit-men. But this one puddle inspired my then boyfriend into random chivalry, and he picked me up and carried me to my car and set me inside the driver’s seat. That was the last time a puddle was fun to me.
Now I am wasting away, and don’t go out much even when it doesn’t rain. Puddles are regret. They echo the teardrops falling from the sky, augment and expand each one, piling the regret bigger and bigger until there’s just a puddle of it—a mirror of regret staring back at you when you look down to the past.