Cece

I don't know how long I've known Cece. But it's been raining for a while. And the water pounds on the gutter above our window.

"How's this?" she asks, showing me her deep red bottom lip. "Too much?" She arches her neck to look in the mirror. "Not enough?"

"Nah, you're fine." I roll an eye-lining pencil between my fingers, watching her add more lipstick and listening to the rain.

"But something's just –"

Don't worry about it.

We move about our room. The party's not for five hours, but there's nothing else to do. She searches in the closet, while I look through her underwear drawer. She asks me what color obi I want, pulling some bed sheets from the shelf. I ask her where she got her new striped bikini bottoms. She says, Charles bought them. How's Charles? Fine. I haven't seen him in a while. Oh? You should bring him around some time. We'll see, you know with work and school and family and all.

And I shut her bureau.

"You know what I haven't had in weeks?" she asks me, coming up behind to wrap the yellow pillow case around my waist. "A real good time."

I shake my head. You're always having a good time.

"Seriously. Nothing ever seems as fun." She hands me a sheet for her waist.

"That's just a mindset," I tell her, fumbling with the fabric.

She says she guesses. I guess too.

The air in our room vibrates. The window shakes in its frame. The rain looks cold. It steams inside.

"Do I need white for my cheeks?" I ask Cece, turning from the fogging window.

She only shrugs, sliding a comb through her hair.

"Or maybe for my whole face?" Her make-up lies on the desk. I move behind her in the mirror. I study her face, my face, her face. "It's my eyebrows. Yours too. But mine more."

I call to her from the bathroom that my eyebrows aren't Asian enough. She yells back that one of her great grandmothers was yellow. I tell her that she really is a chink, and smear shaving cream underneath my bangs.

What are you doing? she calls. Nothing, I answer, you'll see.

You'll see that I'm helping you, Cece. You see?

"The rain's letting up!" she calls from the bedroom. "Do you want to go somewhere?"

"Like where?" I wash the shaving cream down the drain.

"How about the library?"

"In our kimonos?" I rub my forehead down with a towel and peek out of the bathroom.

Cece looks at me, laughs at me, Why not? she says to me. "One sec, need to pee."

Not many people linger in the hallways as we leave – they're all hiding from the rain, hiding as they find the perfect costumes for the party, hiding from these geishas.

A few students watch us walking through the center of campus, strolling beside the grove of trees. But soon the rain returns. Cece tells me that she's getting soaked and to hurry it up. But I slow down and open my arms to the rain.

"It's just a little bit of water."

"I'm sure that's what Noah said."

I run up behind her, my kimono sheet in hand, and shake a tree branch above her head, shake pools of water down her hair.

"Jesus."

The rain's so wonderful, I tell her. I tell her to taste it.

I stick out my tongue. She sticks out hers too, making sure that I know this is just to amuse me, her tiny pink tongue sliding from between her red leaking lips. I wonder if I look that beautiful.

Come on, I kick off my shoes, scorch into the trees and through the puddles. After a few minutes she follows me. She laughs, and shrieks, and calls out my name. "Cece," I say back. Though quiet, my voice echoes over the puddles and through the grove.

I'll find you, she calls and calls. I catch sight of her blue obi a few times, but the trees always block my view. Eventually, I feel her hand on my kimono arm. Got you.

Panting, we lie beneath the trees. I hear rain smack the canopy above us.

"Your mascara is smearing. Isn't it waterproof?" I ask Cece, my nose inches from her nose.

"Well, you don't have any eyebrows." She's right. I trace my fingers across my bare forehead, searching for the familiar fur, but it's gone.

"Well, you're soaking wet." I grab her rain glossed hand, and she squeezes mine back.

Here, she whispers, drawing my fingers to her mouth. With her free hand she traces over my bare brows.

Do you know what real rain tastes like?

Maybe she says it. Maybe I do. Maybe it's just in the air.

But I kiss her. Or she kisses me. Or there's just a kiss.

And I taste lipstick-stained rain for the first time. And maybe she tastes something, too?

We never go to the party. And when we leave for the library, I notice that my bed sheet really is soaked through. As is hers. Walking behind Cece, I can see that she wears the underwear Charles bought her.

She goes to bed early, before the storm really picks up. I wait in the laundry room, wait for the dryer to grind down, wait for lightning to shatter the window. Maybe I'll run through the storm on my own this time – leave Cece behind and her fake kimono behind and her striped underwear behind and her red red lips behind. It'll just be me. The dryer rumbles to a stop. I pull out the sheets, waddle towards the hamper, hope the fabric's not as damp.

I shake out a warm bed sheet, pull it around my shoulders. No, it's not worth running through the rain again. I won't find anything, just cold and wet and mud. Listening to rain smack the glass, I lean against a washing machine and pull her kimono up to my chin.

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