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The night was nearing the midnight hour and all was calm. There was a gentle – almost soothing – noise of raindrops falling from the sky and greeting the already wet ground. Lightning flashed and faded in the distance, but the sound it made was unintelligible. Their light winked in the darkened sky, seeming to compete among the stars. Both shone brilliantly above the street where a girl stood, alone.
It was a dreary kind of night. There was a chill in the air, so much so that it made her shiver uncontrollably. She wore a graying raincoat that matched her equally gray surroundings. On her feet, she wore bright yellow boots that felt wholly out of place. In her right hand, she held an umbrella. She made little noise as she made her way down the street. She passed what appeared to be several empty houses. The only hints of life within them were the flickers of light from a television set. She gave the dwellings a fleeting glance and continued on. And she went on for a long while walking down that dingy street, holding that umbrella aloft.
She has done this for as long as she could remember. It was the same routine every day. During the day, she’d stay inside and stare unseeingly at the TV. At night, when it started to rain, she took to roaming the streets. When the rain would start to lessen with the sunrise, she’d return inside and start the process over again.
It rained every night without fail.
And every time it did, the girl was compelled to go outside and simply walk. It filled her with an unexplained happiness.
Her neighbors found her peculiar and interacted with her little – if at all. Her reason for doing such a thing was unfathomable to them and she had instantly become an outcast. Her neighbors never left the safety of their houses during the night, let alone the entertainment of their televisions. The outside world scared them. It was to be feared and avoided and certainly not to be enjoyed.
The girl had grown up with these very same convictions but had gone on to dismiss them – or at least most of them, anyway.
Yes, she had walked the streets nightly but never had she been touched by a single raindrop.
That fear she still harbored.
Her tread slowed when she realized this. She rounded a corner and meandered down an identical dank street and slowly came to a stop.
She stood there, her forehead crinkled in contemplation.
What was she so afraid of? Why didn’t she just surrender that umbrella and let the rain grace her skin?
It couldn’t possibly hurt her, right?
She desperately craved to know the answer to that question.
The neighbors had thought that being outside was a death sentence and, clearly, it wasn’t. She was proof. So, who’s to say that such a simple thing as a sky bourn water droplet could be harmful?
It couldn’t be. No way.
But even as she reassured herself, she found that her hands were clamped tighter around the umbrella.
In a way, that umbrella was her friend. That umbrella was her constant companion. Even when she was indoors, that umbrella lays close by her side. Its mahogany handle was warm and familiar and was permanently imprinted with her grasp marks. Her umbrella acted as a shield against everything – literally and figuratively. It acted as a source of comfort and offered a sense of security.
She came to the conclusion that her umbrella would not be easily relinquished – but neither would her resolve to face her fear. The girl’s determination to find the answer outweighed that of her dread. She silently cursed her stubborn hands and, after much effort, forced them to cast aside the umbrella.
It fell to the ground with a great splash of water and a thunk that rang much too noisily down the otherwise silent street.
The girl stood beside it, her head angled toward the night sky. Rain drops fell upon her face. Her blue eyes widened in shock.
If the neighbors were to have looked out their windows at that very moment, there’s no doubt their eyes would have widened in shock as well.
If they had, indeed, looked out their windows they would have spotted an abandoned umbrella and a pair of bright yellow boots dancing happily in the distance.
In the rain.