“It’s going to rain today,” Casper said. “Purple rain, to be precise.”
I snorted. “Purple rain? Don’t be stupid, Cas.” We were lounging on the beat up couch in the garage, watching the storm clouds drift across the horizon through the open door.
“Why can’t it rain purple? Tell me that.”
I shrugged, pulling at the stuffing leaking from the split seams in the rough brown fabric. It was the best kind of couch—squishy enough that you sank when you sit down, but hard enough to keep your back straight. “Well, because water ain’t purple. And the sky’s never done it before, so why should it happen now?”
Casper tensed. I could feel the couch shift as he squeezed his muscles tight. “Cas?”
He catapulted up off the couch, facing me with his fists clenched at his sides, silhouetted by the grey sky moving swiftly behind him. “Adults say anything can happen, right? They tell us we can be anything we want to be,” he spat out.
“What are you talking about? What does this have to do with purple rain?”
“Shut up, Ray.”
I jerked back. Quiet, soft spoken Cas had just told me to shut my trap.
He continued on, a fire inside lighting up his eyes in an unnerving way I had never seen before. “It has everything do with it. They always say we can do anything, be whoever we want to, and then when we tell them what we want, they pat us on the heads, tell us it’s impossible.”
I nod my head slowly, watching the warm, moist breeze flutter through Casper’s mop of brown hair. “I guess. It’s never bothered me before though. That’s what they all say.”
Casper clenched his jaw and turned toward the building storm. His next words came so quiet I couldn’t hear them. “What’s that, Cas? Speak up, buddy.”
He glanced back at me. “Your father has never picked you up by your shirt collar and thrown you across the room when you tell him.” He almost yelled it, a coiling anger bursting through his words. I sank deeper into the sofa. How had I failed to miss it, this silently bubbling anger, its quiet making it even more dangerous? Cas was about to explode.
Cas turned back to the storm. The pale light glanced over one cheek, leaving the other side in darkness. He looked bigger than usual, even when compared to the huge storm brewing outside, much bigger than me, although we were both eleven. He stood in stony silence, his fists still clenched, his gaze so intense I thought it would bore a hole straight through those storm clouds. “I’m tired of hiding who I am,” he said finally.
“What did you say you want to be?” I whispered. “Who are you, Cas?”
He seemed to ignore me, drinking up the essence of the storm, seeming to swell with the energy of it. Lightning crackled along the distant mountain ridgeline, and he drew in a sharp, exulting breath. He glanced back at me once more, his eyes sparking, literally sparking, with veins of gold.
He raised his hands high, spreading his fingers wide, and a buzzing energy gathered in his palms, only visible as a wavering, a shaking of the air. “Al Menoth, Cristo!” The words burst from his mouth with an awful power behind them, making me shudder and impulsively hide my face behind a cushion. A gentle pattering, a splattering filled my ears. I peeked over the cushion to see…
Purple rain. Yes, purple rain, dripping from the sky, sprinkling the driveway, dancing on the tree leaves, purple on gray and black and green. And in the midst of it was Casper, standing in the whirling color, arms stretched out wide and high, laughing with pure relief.