The night the first rain fell, after weeks of thick orange smoke, it felt like half the city came out to stand on the street. You could watch the relief pour off people with the water. They stood out on their balconies, on their doorsteps. Some on the footpath. A giant community exhalation. We opened our windows and doors, jammed shut and taped up for months, and let the clean air blow through the rooms, taking the acrid smell of smoke, along with our anxiety and fear, out the back door.
We lay awake through the night listening to the sound of the rain fall on our tin roofs, as though it were the most beautiful orchestra ever assembled, with its big bass notes of heavy droplets and its soprano tinkling when it eased to a light shower. In the morning, the puddles on the ground were ashtray brown. But we didn’t care, there were birds feeding and drinking in the garden. We hadn’t seen or heard a bird in weeks. It was a relief to see that they had survived the toxic air; a sign that life might return to what we knew before.
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