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Caught in the rain

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Seconds went by. Nothing changed. The clock still read the same numbers as the last time he checked. Riley always left the house for his walk a exactly a quarter past seven am. No sooner, no later. He had done this everyday for over five years. At the beginning there was no reason for it. He had thought it important to exercise to ease off the stress of paperwork. Riley enjoyed his walks. He always did no matter how many times he walked the trail, he found himself eager to walk down the path, beside the river to the mine than back.

 Iron island was a desolate place with few people and even few fewer facilities. That was the way Riley liked it. The island had always reminded him of his hometown. Birds still chirped, grass still grew. Only here, there was nobody to bother him. Riley had spent days interacting with almost nobody. Papers that needed his signature came in the post. Daily essentials were delivered to his doorstep. Riley occasionally chatted with miners over the state of Iron island only industry.

There was only one person that Riley saw everyday without fail. Each day, as he walked by the shallow river that ran out from the mines he encountered a man strolling in the opposite direction. He had hair the colour of steel, not unlike the ore retrieved from the mines, and soft yet piecing eyes. Every morning they walked by each other on the way to their respective destinations, Riley always smiled to the man and the man always returned the action. These actions were repeated once more on the way home.

Riley was initially bothered by Steven's presence. Riley had never encountered a single person on his path to the mines. He didn’t think anyone knew of it. Riley had been doing it for years, alone, but all that changed a year ago. At first the everything about the man bothered him. His pristine suit, his hideous yellow umbrella, his dainty smile. Over time Riley had warmed up to these previously annoying characteristics.

He had one some digging. Riley had found out the man was a geologist in the mines, that he lived next to them and that he his name was Steven. Riley had pushed for a last name but was told that it wouldn’t be possible to divulge anymore personal information. He was informed that while Steven worked in the mines, he did not work in any of Riley's shares and instead worked for the Devon corporation. A company that often fought with Riley's over shares on the island.

Despite the fact that he interrupted Riley's quiet time and was an employee for his biggest rival in  the mining business, he couldn’t help but be enthralled. He had no basis for his affections yet they somehow managed to develop them. Riley knew his small crush was both pointless and was going to go nowhere. Despite this, he found himself looking forward to seeing Steven everyday.

Riley lazily glances out the window. Grey clouds covered the sky. Riley pondered if he should bring a umbrella. Those thoughts were thrown out the window as he turned his eyes to clock. It now read twenty-five past seven. He should have left ten minutes ago. Riley rushes out of the house and down the lane, kicking open his gate in the process.

Riley ran. The sound of his dress shoes hitting the stoney road took over the usual environmental sounds as he raced towards the river. Riley was not one for being late. He never was but for a reason he couldn’t describe he felt like he had to be on time to his brief interaction with the devon worker. Riley slowed down as he reached the corner. He had made it on time but had grown tired in the process.

Riley was once quite a fit man. His muscles were evidence of this but due to years of sitting in office chairs and signing contracts had left him worse for wear. Even after he had moved to Iron island and began walking he still wasn’t the same as he was in his late teens. Riley did walk everyday but it is a stroll not a sprint. He wasn’t used to running anymore and judging by how tired he was. He didn’t think he would ever be.

Seconds after taking a short time to breath, he heard faint footsteps coming from around the corner. Riley straightened his back and began walking. Riley was tense as he walked. His neck was stiff and his movements slightly robotic. His heart was still pounding from running. A red tint had taken over his face and spread to his ears. He was both surprised and disgusted in himself. He had let a simple crush affect him so strongly. It was the first time he had felt so strongly over somebody he had never even talked to.  

The source of the light footsteps was revealed to be Steven turned the corner as Riley expected. Steven was now in full view of Riley's gaze. Steven wore a suit of faint purples and a deep grey tie. Steven's mind appeared to be in another place. His eyes were glazed over as he stared off into nothingness. Riley turned his head and let out a polite smile. A small smile passed Steven's face but he still stayed within his thoughts. His hands fidgeting with the handle of his closed umbrella.

An indescribable feeling came over Riley, he wasn’t sure what or why but he suddenly began to mumble. “Um.uh.” stammered Riley. Riley knew the minute that he spoken that he had messed up, his attempt at a greeting had turned into a series of indecipherable noises. Riley felt his face heat up once more. He had made a mistake.

Riley's embarrassment worsened when Steven jumped, his umbrella slipped out of his hands and hit the ground making an unsavoury noise. Riley had snapped him out of his trance like state and back to reality. “Oh, you.” said Steven serenely. Steven's eyes were widened. He had hardly realised Riley was even there. The geologist bent down to retrieve his fallen item before it rolled into the river.

Steven placed the umbrella once more under his arm and stood up to talk to Riley. He did not have a chance before Riley spoke “I um have to go.” Riley ran around the corner. His footsteps grew more frantic the further he moved away from Steven. He ran until he was met with a dead end in the form pillars of black stone. He had reached the mine.

Riley perched himself against a wall. He had really messed up. With a groan Riley slide down the glossy, black rock. He was ashamed. He had one chance and he ruined it spectacularly. Riley was not sure what came over him. He wanted to finally talk to Steven, he had for a while yet he could only spew nonsensical mutterings. He reminded himself that he hardly knew the man, he would never have to talk to him. Though Riley would have to see him twice a morning. Riley shakes his head at himself. He was getting so uncharacteristically worked up over practically nothing.

No Sooner had Riley finished that thought when rain started to fall. Riley felt it drip onto his hat. He looked at the sky. It was definitely raining. The black clouds told Riley that it was only going to get worse. He lifted himself off the ground. The rain was getting heavier by the second. Riley regrets not bringing an umbrella with him. Riley had ran out of the house once he realised the time.

 Riley, for the third time that day, began to run. The glossy rock of the island proved difficult to run on while wet. Riley continued to run. He ran around the corner and onto the riverside. Suddenly the world became blurred as Riley fell backwards. Riley lifts his head up, he had slipped on a piece of metal that was protruding from the ground.

 A hand reached out through the thick rain. Riley examined it. The heavy droplets veiled the man's face but Riley knew who it was. The only person it could be. “Come on, I don’t bite.” said the man. His voice was serene yet filled with humor.

 Riley grasped the hand and was helped to his feet. Riley was pulled under the umbrella. It clearly wasn’t made for two people as Riley's backside was still fully exposed to the rain. That didn't go unnoticed by the smaller man. Steven pulled him in closer. Steven's face was now practically in Riley's chest. “Is that better? We couldn’t have you getting any wetter, you are already soaked.” Said Steven.  His voice was almost obscured by the crashing sound of the rain.

Steven was looking at Riley eagerly. Riley realised he had yet to say anything. “Oh, Thank you.” said Riley. “For sharing your umbrella.” continued Riley after a brief pause. Riley smiled at Steven. Riley could feel his heart beating in his chest. Riley reckoned Steven could too due to their close proximity.

“It is no problem at all. Luckily I brought an umbrella with me today. I contemplated leaving it at home this morning, thankfully I didn’t.” said Steven. His tone was light and airy. He had an obvious Hoenn accent. It sounded almost musical. Riley guessed by the man's speaking that he was from a wealthy area as his wording was ever so slightly posh.

The man beamed once more as he said “I’m Steven.” Any attempt at a handshake had to be forgone. Steven couldn’t extend a hand without hitting Riley's chest. Steven had to settle for turning his gaze up at the taller man. His gaze met with Riley's. Steven's piercing eyes cut through Riley's developing daydreams.

Riley came back to reality long enough to reply. “My name is Riley.” Riley noticed the tenseness in his own voice. No doubt Steven did as well. Riley let in a breath and relaxed. The two men lapsed into silence. It wasn’t particularly awkward but Riley would struggle to call it comfortable. Riley stood there, with Steven close to chest for awhile before they both drifted back into their thoughts.

The soothing sound of rain was eventually interrupted by Steven. “It’s strange.” said Steven. The geologist seemed to be deep in thought as spoke.

Riley glanced at him. “What is?” said Riley.

“We see each other so often, yet this is the first time we have spoken,” replied Steven. It was strange. They both knew that but Riley never had the nerve to start up a conversation.

“I suppose you are right. We never have conversed,” said Riley. He was fully aware of this fact, He had to play it cool. “We are talking now though.” he continued.

A light breathy laugh filled the air. “I guess we are Riley, I guess we are.” said Steven with a smile. The way Steven said Riley's name sent shivers up his spine. Steven took notice of this. “You cold?” he asked.

“Yes I am. Your umbrella does wonders for blocking out rain, cold? Not so much.” spoke Riley. A thin grin grew onto his face as Steven laughed once more.

“I guess not. This umbrella is many things. Waterproof, visible, aesthetically pleasing but it doesn't really help temperature-wise.” spoke Steven with a sigh.

Riley's mind hit a wall at the geologists last statement. “Aesthetically pleasing? To whom? This thing is lemon yellow.” asked Riley in shock. He could describe the colourful cloth with many words, “pleasing” wouldn't be one of them.

A flush of pink developed on Steven's face.. He angled his face away from Riley. “I like it,” he grumbled. “It is bright...and I bought it in slateport market,” continued the man. The pinkness spread further across his face with each word. Iit finally engulfed his ears when Riley begun to chuckle.

Just as Steven was about to retort, Riley noticed the rain had cleared up. He placed a palm outside the safe circumference of the umbrella. A few drops hit his hand. It was less than a drizzle. “It looks like it cleared up,” Observed Steven. He stepped back from Riley reluctantly. They were had just started…

Riley nodded in agreement. He waved goodbye to Steven, the man returned the gesture. Riley turned around, he started to walk away. He was going to leave. Leave the man he had spent the last year wanting to talk to. Go back to briefly exchanging smiles as they crossed each other. Riley couldn't go back to that. Not after talking to him.

Riley turned around and spoke. “Ugh hey.” Steven whipped around with surprising speed. He looked intently at Riley as he spoke. “Would you like to, I don’t know. Go get coffee or something?” Asked Riley. The words left his mouth stilted and awkward but they got they got his point across.

“Yes!” replied Steven almost instantly before calming down and following with “I would love to. How about tomorrow?” Steven's smile was now from ear to ear. His flush had returned but was now gathered at his cheeks. Riley could only nod in agreement as he gazed at Steven. Drinking in the man with his eyes.

Steven turned and began to walk down the path and to the mine. Riley had finally talked to him, or rather he talked to Riley. Riley was happy regardless.

Something occurred to Riley. He called after Steven. “Wait, how am I supposed to contact you?” Asked Riley. He needed to make sure he could meet up with Steven again, even if it was just for coffee.

Steven turned his head so that Riley was in view before speaking. “We see each other everyday.” It was brief but it answered Riley's question. A chuckle drifted through the morning air. It slowly escalated into laughter. It was Steven, his laughter permeated his mind. Riley was enthralled by it.

Riley could only stand there, rooted the ground as the laughing Steven rounded the corner.