He tipped his hat to her, ignoring the way it allowed rain to sluice down his neck. The lady appreciated the gesture with a smile before they parted ways, her safe under her umbrella. It felt like rain was still pouring through him. The visions had been coming faster and his head was so full of the possibilities that it was a wonder he didn’t crack. He needed a break, he needed to deal with his thoughts.
So, despite the rain, he walked home. Across the shining wet cobbles, letting the raindrops pummel his hat, his coat, the rest of him. The hat brim could only do so much and drops caught on his lashes. His hair made a wet rat tail over the back of his coat. He looked more dishevelled than he’d ever been in public before, but who would be looking? Or recognize him if they did? So he walked on, sorting through his head and letting the frantic energy of the last few weeks sluice away with the rain. By the time he got to his front gate, his head was as clear. Like a deep pool of water, not empty, but still. Thoughts dropped onto the surface like rain, but most of them got no further or were dealt with easily. Go inside. Take off the coat. Remove the boots. Leave them in the mud room. Doff the hat, leave it on the bannister. Go to one’s room. Get your sketch book. Sit in front of the fire. Draw.
The images flowed like a river. A scene of fire. Smoke drifting over a field, a house in the background, burning. People in front of it, swords drawn, pistols discarded. Pain. He shaded the shadows long. Finished, he turned the page to another. A night scene, a balcony, the party inside, the two figures on the balcony enjoying the night together, rather than the glitter inside. Page after page he filled, listening to the drum of the rain on the roof. Finally, he turned the page, and nothing came. His curse satisfied, he settled in to draw his current project.
On the page, the face of a lady took shape under an umbrella. Dark curls, delicate face, stubborn tilt to her chin. It was not the lady he had accompanied earlier. He looked at the face on his page and realized he might not be treading water.