Influence

Jake watched Edith from the window, safe from the elements under the roof of the "Applewhite academy". Today she had insisted on feeding the animals in the pouring rain. Jake snickered to himself. She's funny like that.

He remembered how she would always venture out in the rain during the first spring shower of April, despite her mothers attempts to discourage this tradition. She said it was good luck to sing to the flowers so that they all bloomed in May. Her mother, however, said it was only asking for a cold. These eccentric actions were no doubt inspired by the phrase "April showers bring May flowers." But while others may have thought her ritual childish, Jake found it strangely sweet.

He observed while she stood at the doors of the barn watching the sky fall in thousands of tiny drops. For a moment she was content to stay just barely under the roof of the structure observing the spring shower, but before long, as Jake had predicted, just watching wasn't enough. She left the protection of the barn roof and let the cold raindrops fall on her face, hair, skin.

She walked past the barn down the family's long driveway before she turned onto the gravel path that ran past the sheep's pasture, through the wooded grove and down to the river.

What is she doing? Jake thought to himself. He let her go for a moment and just stood by the kitchen window as thoughts swirled around in his head. But, like Edith who could not resist the temptation of the rain, Jake could not deter the notion to go after her.

He stepped into the foyer where he grabbed an umbrella from the basket and walked out onto the pristine, white-painted porch. His steps resonated through the wooden boards with a dull thud and the light tink of metal from the chain on his jeans and rings on his thick black boots.

He traced Edith's steps safe from the rain under his black umbrella. Now he was beginning to see why she liked the rain so much. Everything seemed greener, fresher, new almost. The smell of dirt, grass and atmosphere was exhilarating. Though exposing yourself completely to the wet weather as Edith did was a little too much for Jake. He highly preferred to remain dry.

As he turned onto the path to the river, Edith was nowhere in sight. She must've already turned at the fork ahead. Jake thought. That's ok. He would wait. So he leaned up against a tree, clutching the curved handle of the umbrella, smiled to himself and waited.

Several minutes went by before Edith appeared at the bend in the path.

Over the years, she had grown her hair out a few inches and cut it in a more modern style that flared out at the tips. However, she had kept the bangs and Jake loved how the hung in her face and she never bothered to brush them back. But now, of course, her locks soaked by the rain, hung straight and flat, strands clinging to her forehead.

As she approached, Jake could clearly see the details of her knee length dress; white with an intricate design of blue flowers. He stood in the middle of the path admiring her with what he thought was probably some goofy-looking grin on his face but it only widened when he saw that Edith was smiling too. When she was close enough for him to see the individual raindrops gliding across her skin, she spoke.

"What are you doing out here, Jake?"

"I could ask you the same thing. You know it's not April yet?"

She flashed pearly white teeth at his reference to her spring tradition. "I know. I just thought it was a nice day for a walk."

Jake couldn't help but laugh. "Only you would think this is good weather for a walk."

Smirk on her face, she said, "You didn't answer my question."

"Oh. Well," he said matter-of-factly. "I saw you go down the path to the river and I though you might appreciate a companion with an umbrella…but I see that staying dry in the rain is a foreign concept to you."

Edith's laugh was sweet and melodical, almost as if she were singing. Jake sighed, drinking in the sound of her laughter. "Well I don't think it will be of much help now," she pointed out, looking down at her dress which was soaked through. "I'm about as wet as it gets, and I think I'm gonna need a little more than an umbrella to dry off."

Damn…Jake thought as her eyes, brown with green flecks met his. So full of passion, so full of…something. Jake couldn't even think of the word he was so swept away.

Barely even thinking, he leaned in closer to her while still holding the umbrella above them.

"What are you doing?" She asked quickly, thought it wasn't too hard to guess. Jake sensed a slight hint of worry on her voice.

"Shhh…" was all Jake said before he placed a cold hand against the side of her neck, tilted her head up and pressed his lips to hers. The kiss was short but sweet. Jake savored every second, and Edith didn't seem to mind either.

"What was that?" she asked when he pulled away, clearly taken aback.

Jake laughed at her bewilderment.

"That's called a kiss, Edith."

"Ok, well I knew that but…why?" A smile slowly began to show itself on her face causing Jake's heart to quicken.

Jake rolled his eyes. "Well, God, Edith! Why do people kiss people? I like you."

She stared at him for a moment, trying to make sense of his words. "Really?"

"Damn it girl, why are you so skeptical? Is it really that hard to believe that a delinquent punk like me could fall for a stubborn, goody-two-shoes like you?" he said with some sarcasm.

Edith laughed, giddy from the emotion of the moment. "Yes!" He just smiled back at her. "There's no way in hell you're telling the truth," she accused, even though she knew he was being sincere.

Jake gasped in fake surprize. "Edith Applewhite! Did you just swear?"

"Well, you're a pretty bad influence," she said through a smile as she took hold of the umbrella from Jake and shoved him backwards into the rain.

He laughed at the girl's simulated malice. "Why, thank you, my' lady." He bowed and stepped back under the small shelter. But before she could say anything else, he swooped down and kissed her again with more emotion than before. This time, Edith kissed him back. Before long, she abandoned the umbrella and let it fall to the ground so she could wrap her arms around him and pull him in, as if it were possible for them to get any closer. Rain fell on the two young lovers as the heart of the moment washed over them.

Beneath Jake's fingertips, the material of Edith's dress was coarse and absolutely soaked while her hands wound themselves around the back of his neck and through his hair.

Their lips finally separated but not by much. They stayed pressed together with Jake's forehead against hers as they grinned at each other like the love struck fools they were.

"Believe me now?" He asked.

Edith only nodded, biting her lip. "Mhmm."

He bent down, picked up the umbrella and held it above their heads once again. "Would the lady like an escort back to the residence?" he said, offering her his arm.

"She certainly would." She smiled sweetly and linked her arm with his.

The crunch of gravel beneath their feet and pitter-patter of rain above them was the soothing melody in their ears on that spring afternoon.

Edith was right in what she had said before; Jake had influenced her. She had started swearing, as she had demonstrated earlier, but only when her parents weren't around of course. And she had convinced her mother to let her get her ears pierced. Twice. She had also gotten her cartilage pierced in secret; the most scandalous thing she had ever done.

But it was safe to say that Edith had influenced Jake more than he had her. The past three years with the Applewhite's had been life changing. He no longer drank and tried to smoke as little as possible. The ring in his eyebrow was gone, and of those in his ears, only five remained. His hair was no longer red. He had grown it out to sport its natural deep brown. But, refusing to give up his rebellious ways completely, he had shaved it into a mohawk that lay flat on his head which was much less offensive than fiery death spikes.

But more important than his physical appearance and behavior, Jake's heart had changed, and also his views on just about everything. The Applewhite's farm was a different way of life, and he was officially a member of the Applewhite culture. (Though he still kept some of his roots to his delinquent background.)

Edith's open mind had opened Jake's heart and he had made room to warmly welcome her in. He dearly hoped that this would become her new permanent residence.