It's hard to imagine rain without Indra.
The steady drumming of every second and the flashing sheet of liquid globes on the window shielded the lights from both worlds. The squatty, lit chamber of churches to the squashed apartment of the toymaker. Inside, Jesse clasped the clay doll in his hand. The toy writhed his torso, squirmed his shoulders.
"Please, I like how I look."
Jesse swiveled towards the mirror near a stand, his hand clutched tighter to Kai and ugh... With a huff, he straightened Kai's curves and thighs, his thumb flattened his chest, peeled the plump edges of his bottom, smudged his uptight bun to a bald spot. When Jesse met Kai's eyes, he stopped.
"It's for your own good," Jesse said. "I told you not to make last-minute changes. You know how the judges are. Picky, stubborn, but once you win, you'll be better off."
Jesse glanced at his reflection. Cold skin, worn eyes, and a heavy brow. His blazer is tattered around the edges and jeans frayed at the seams. It's enough for a man like him. With his free hand, Jesse snatched his orange umbrella from the stand, opened the door, and he went out with Kai.
"Will I come back from the competition?"
The rain pitter-pattered on the umbrella, the only sounds in Jesse's mind. He walked near the chamber of the churches. After a while, he uncurled his fist, and Kai snuggled down to his flag pocket.
"I hope so." Jesse blurted.
Kai frowned. "You hope so?"
"It's uncertain, alright?" The rain was splattering harder on the umbrella. "Once you get in, you'll get to do whatever you want. You can forget about me and still have a good life. But that happens if the judges are nice."
"Is winning that important then?" Kai spatted as he climbed out of the flag pocket. "Because the judges are 'nice'?"
Jesse bit his lip. "It's your future Kai–"
"But it's not me who they are judging," Kai jumped into the water puddles, the clay melted at the tip of his toes. As Jesse lunged for Kai, the umbrella flew out of his hand, and he slipped on his head. He woke up groggy and stared at the trails of clay drifted away from the church.
Jesse waited alone in the rain near the chamber.
He shivered, knowing the rain-washed Kai anew. His fingers numbed, knowing the umbrella was lost. His eyes closed, knowing Kai might not come back.
Jesse still waited.
Jesse woke up when he felt a constant tapping on his chin, jumbled with incoherent words. His eyes stirred, and he stared at the clay figure in front of him, murmuring.
"It's alright, Jesse, we're almost at the competition," it said.
Jesse glanced at the umbrella above him, which shielded him from the rain. He then took stock of the clay doll: Despite its head almost falling off, it wore a messy frock and an uptight bun. And its eyes...
"Kai? You came back."
"Kaia. I wanted to call myself that for a long time."
"Are you a–"
When they're at the front of the chamber, Kaia gave back the umbrella to Jesse. Jesse bid her good luck, and Kaia walked inside, untouched.
For she was the toymaker's pride.