He keeps his umbrella close, but never opened. Storm clouds roll in and out of his life, but they never stop to even wet the ground.
He wakes up every morning at 6:15, stays in bed for another five minutes, and takes a shower that lasts eight and a half minutes. He eats two slices of buttered toast and a small tumbler of orange juice. He dresses himself in a blue button-down with a striped tie and shines his shoes so that he can see his face. If it's cold out, he wears his black trench coat and if it isn't, he just wears his sport coat. He carries his briefcase every day, along with his umbrella. He can't forget his umbrella. The train leaves at 7:00 and he is at the station by 6:55. He hasn't missed a day of work in eight years.
His career isn't exactly what he hoped it would have been. If he were to think back on it, he would realize that it isn't even close. Thankfully, he never does.
At 7:45 he goes for his morning coffee run—black with two sugars. Provided the line isn't too long, he can make it back to the office by 7:55 giving him five minutes to spare before his boss comes in with a new stack of paperwork for the day. It's the one bit of uncertainty in his day and he dreads every second of it.
He doesn't speak to any of his coworkers and very few of them speak to him. He had to ask Lisa for the key to the supply room two weeks ago when his printer ran out of ink. While he was there, he grabbed two more to avoid another uncomfortable, unnecessary encounter like this one. Sometimes he hears them talking together in the lunch room. They tell stories about their families at home and things that are on television at night.
He goes for lunch at 11:45 and returns an hour later. He works four more hours then he gets ready to go home, grabbing his coat and his briefcase and lastly, his umbrella, just in case it starts to rain. He takes the same train that he took this morning and the morning before that and the one that he will take tomorrow morning.
It goes without saying that he lives alone. He keeps his apartment in pristine condition, taking time to tidy it up every Sunday. When he gets home he makes coffee, a full pot, out of habit. A habit that he hasn't bothered to break.
She liked coffee and sunshine and city nights and libraries and surprisingly, him. He used to take her out for nice dinners and she would give him books to read and leave poetry in his sock drawer.
She meant to take him out somewhere nice for his birthday, but she forgot to make reservations at their favorite restaurant, so they went down to the train station and asked for the two tickets for the next train, whatever it happened to be. They spent the day running along the beach and had a spontaneous picnic of Nutella and Wonderbread. On the train ride home she fell asleep on his shoulder, he breathed in her hair, it smelled like sunshine and sea salt. He acted how he was supposed to act and it was cliché, he knew it was cliché, but it was the only way he knew how.
He didn't notice that it was ending, or maybe he chose not to. Perhaps there were clues in her untouched breakfasts or the way she would sometimes stare at the window and sigh. If there were, he didn't see them. His story goes something like this: one day, he woke up and she was gone.
And after, it rained for six days straight. He spent those days staring out the window and cleaning out his apartment. On the sixth day he went to the store and bought an umbrella. And when he woke up the next day, the rain had stopped.
That was eight years ago.
He sees girls all over that remind him of her, short, skinny girls with brown hair and knobby knees wearing flowery dresses. He sees them riding bicycles through the park, reading books in cafes, sitting on the train, even Lisa from his office reminds him of her a bit when she laughs. The sinister part of him says that this means that she is easily replaceable, but he doesn't like to think about that. He doesn't like to think about her.
One day he found himself at the train station, just like every other day. He was carrying his briefcase and his umbrella as he waited for the train to pull up to the platform. He noticed a young woman looking at him, he gave her a polite smile and went back to his newspaper.
"Excuse me sir," she said. "Why are you carrying an umbrella?"
He looked down at the umbrella resting on the ground and then back at her.
"I'm just waiting for the rain."