"Are you just going to stand there?"

It was raining. Enough already. The rain wasn't a pleasant diversion. It was like standing in the middle of a cold shower with your clothes on fishing for your contact lenses in the drain.

"You are such a wimp. I'll take it in myself."

H
U
H
?

I lit another cigarette, which took more than a little effort considering the weather. The wind was picking up and someone's hat flew past me in the rain. I wondered who might have owned it and how much it meant to them to have lost it to the storm. In the meantime, Marci had taken the saddle out of the back of her truck and gone into the house.

I watched her through the picture window in her living room as she moved through the house with the saddle. Deciding to try to learn how to ride with someone not only very experienced but also obsessed with belittling me at every opportunity might have been a mistake. All I wanted was to see her in a different light. For once to see her in her element, instead of in the world she was so cold towards. It wasn't entirely her fault, but she deserved much of the blame. Putting Marci in the midst of "real life" was like strapping your average captain of industry to the Catherine Wheel and laughing.

"Are you going to stand out there all night?"

I wasn't sure if it was her voice I heard or if it was only in my imagination. The wind and the rain were growing more fierce and they were known to play tricks with the audio track that runs constantly while we live our little lives.

Without warning, she was standing behind me. I looked back to the picture window and realized I had been staring into my own thoughts since last seeing her pass by that window. She was shouting and crying. I turned, stiff and helpless, and looked into her always needfully expressive eyes. They were draped with panic.

"Did you take my ring?"

Not having any idea what she was talking about, I shook my head and offered to help. She told me to inspect the driveway while she frantically attacked the upholstery of her truck. We searched for over an hour, the rain beating down without pause. My clothes became one with my body. I wanted a drink. I wanted to throw myself in front of a fire to take away the ever deepening chill. The wind blew a stray lawn ornament across my path. A stone in the driveway did not agree with the ornament and redirected its trajectory into my face. I jumped back, wounded, and fell against the side of the truck.

"Are you okay?"

It was out of character for Marci's voice to carry so much concern. She had to have seen the event as it happened. I shrugged and rubbed the side of my face where I had been injured. Blood and rain melded together to create a uniquely stinging pain. I shook it off and insisted on continuing the quest.

The quest never yielded success. We drove back to the stables and searched further. My frustration climbed to infinite proportions. What could possibly be so important to her that she would search so adamantly?

"I should have known better. I pawned everything else, but I saved the stupid ring you gave me. Now that is gone as well."

And no one could understand why I loved her.

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