The rain was falling heavily on Broadway. Large drops formed a carpet of splashes on the sidewalks. Water was pouring off of the curbs and forming dirty streams in the gutters. Crowds, cowering under umbrellas that failed to keep clothing dry, lurched towards the subway entrance.
She was wrapped in a smart khaki trench coat that stopped at her knees. Her umbrella was leaking; she wiped her wet brunette hair out of her eyes. She followed the parade of bobbing umbrellas towards the subway.
The young man was wearing a red shirt. He had blonde hair and broad shoulders. She noticed him because he was the only person on the sidewalk without an umbrella. He was smiling broadly at the person underneath a blue umbrella who was now leaving him. Around his neck was a lanyard with an ID badge attached to it. She guessed that he was soliciting people for signatures for a noble cause, maybe to save the forests. These young types always looked out of place on Wall Street.
He turned his head and saw her. Their faces simultaneously revealed that they knew that they were looking at each other. A bright smile blossomed on his face, as if he knew her. He opened his arms, preparing to give her a hug.
She was perplexed—who is this guy?—but that did not prevent her from smiling. His affection looked genuine. It was the end of the day, however, and she didn’t want to have a conversation with a stranger.
He casually approached her as she hastened towards the subway entrance. Though he didn’t completely obstruct her path, she had to veer sharply to the right to avoid colliding with him. He was still smiling and his mouth opened to start a conversation.
She reached out a hand and, smiling, patted him gently on the shoulder. His shirt was thoroughly soaked; it was sticking to his skin.
Without stopping, she said, “You should get yourself an umbrella.”
“Oh,” he said, blinking the water out of his eyes. Her back was already to him when he called out, “But I was waiting for you!”
He didn’t see or hear her laugh. After he watched her disappear into the subway tunnel, he used his wet hand to wipe his wet face, turned his head, and started looking for another person.