The rain came down one Thursday morning, washing out the
cafe's window with a dirty whiteness, the sunlight that had
lined the window turning away its head to the kiss of the
The people's ears grew accustomed to the hush of the falling
rain as it grew steadily, obstinately, counter to the
diminishing murmur of voices in the cafe.
As jewellery worn long on the body and then removed feels
like a missing limb, so the sound of rain that would cease
only after days would leave a void of silence in Montmartre.
But as each life is centred on an axis of a person's own
self, we are concerned most with the man who has sat himself
down, playing the piano in the crook of the single room.
His eyes are old, but cannot be more than middle-aged.
His hands betray his youth.
Andre is hesitant, playing the ivory keys on a whim, but his
music blooms still like a forgotten rose that surprises and
delights you with its beauty.
For the familiar city had loosened his memories, drawing him
to the music and lightness of long ago.
He paused at the keys, the drawn out melody tailed away like
a half spoken sentence, its ending merging and fading with
the insistence of the rain.
Later when he would play over this episode again and again,
he would realise it was only due to its relentlessness that
he would look out the window at the precise moment and lose
something that was already lost.
Andre glanced at his hands, clasped in his lap, momentarily
shadowed, forgotten by the morning sun that had been courted
away, coy behind the mask of the rain.
He had an artist's hands.
As carelessly sprawled on his lap as they now were, there was
still the beauty of refinement, poise, the roughness of
He was filled at once with longing, a fierce nostalgia that
grabbed him and then ebbed, like the water that pooled
For he had been a student in Montmartre once, and he had met
a girl as warm, as lovely as sunlight.
The first time he saw her she had lingered at the door in the
conservatorium where he was practising, her hat slanted
jauntily atop her caramel hair, the black roses on her dress
on her slender waist.
She would come in often to listen to him, resting her cheek
against her hands, tilting her head to one side, as graceful
as when she danced.
He had opened himself to Julia, offered her all that was his,
but as soon as he spoke of the matters of the heart, she
retreated into herself.
Too quickly she had turned away from him and left Montmartre
with no goodbye.
Everything was quick with Julia, the flash of her eyes in
anger, her enveloping joy, her expressive verdant eyes that
changed from sad, mocking, pensive, as capricious as the mood
of his own pieces.
His friends had pleaded with him to not chase after someone
who did not believe in love, who was as fickle as sunlight
and who shed warmth on everyone she met, but could not ever
How can I escape sunlight, he had replied.
It was simple but he could not explain that Julia was with
him wherever he went, and that at night, he did not know what
to do with his hands.
Outside the rain had coated the streets in a thick substance,
so that a layer of water seemed to efface the darkly clad
people scattered on the streets into something distant and
Far away, a boy in a yellow coat seemed to not touch the
ground, but instead tread softly on a liquid medium of
His head was tilted, laughing, his mouth open to the rain.
His joy drew Andre's attention to him, the immediacy of his
happiness not unlike the upturned face of Julia's hidden in
the depths of his memory.
Tugging at the sleeve of a woman who seemed to be his mother,
the boy pointed at the window to the café.
Her gaze followed his indication, and Andre, covered by the
grandeur of the piano, clothed in the darkness of the corner
laid eyes upon the caramel hair and the profile that had
haunted him for years.
He imagined he saw the flash of green eyes through the
labyrinth of the rain.
It was her! But it could not be.
Andre's heart filled as if with stone, and weakly whispered
the name of whom he had not encountered for years, of whom he
had searched for with no avail.
He pushed off the piano with the hand that was involuntarily
reaching out towards them and rose from his seat.
Stumbling in his haste, he weaved through tables and ran
outside, following the yellow coat that seemed to him as a
beacon of hope, a light to some sort of lighthouse.
They must be running now to escape the incessant roar of the
Andre had to blink to catch a glimpse of the yellow that had
demurred at his insistence into a yellow speck.
Was the boy her son?Each of his cement limbs seemed to move
slowly, separate to his mind that anxiously pushed him on.
He must not lose her again.
The rain was blinding now, its ferociousness rivalling that
of a blizzard, pushing him back, back ...
As space and time are intimately linked, so each second
rendered Julia further away.
The yellow coat and Julia were nowhere in sight, and Andre
could only stop, defeated, dumb in wonder at the stubbornness
of the rain.
He wished not to be separated from the ground by the pools of
water, but to fall and beat his fists on the cobbled ground.
Instead he stood, alone in the abandoned streets, the rain
He drew a long, painful breath and realised he had been
suspending his breathing.
He closed his fists in response to the aching sadness
collecting in the palms of his hands.
The rain had brought him hope, and taken it away again. Could
it be that she did not wish to be found?But it could not
It was music in Montmartre, he was sure, that had brought
them closer again, and he would not give up searching for her
until they buried him with the dreams of her sweetening his
bones, the music of her laugh in his ears.
The light and airy music that he had abandoned for so many
years in bitterness over her absence seemed to have summoned
And so he must go on, against the indifference of the rain
and of perhaps even Julia herself, with a love that feels at
once as if he is sinking, beneath the weight of the rain but
gives him hope for his rise, for sunlight to fall on his face
• By Modi Deng, Year 13, Columba College