A Prose In the Rain

January 25, 2011
Prose. A written or spoken language in its ordinary form, without metrical structure. Plain or dull writing. Derived from the Latin word prosa meaning “straightforward”. Prose is also her name.

She is anything but plain. Chestnut tresses of hair cascade down her back in a shower of waves. Big hazel eyes framed with thick, long lashes. The girls at school whisper enviously behind her back about her natural beauty. The teachers always wonder how her full lips are always pulled up in a smile. People wondered how she could be so nice, so happy all the time.

Truthfully, Prose Emerson wasn’t happy all the time. She did a wonderful job of hiding it from her peers, from her friends and teachers. Inside herself, there was a storm of emotions. Anger, frustration, helplessness. She felt like the life she was living wasn’t actually hers.

Prose can’t remember the last time she did something for herself, because she wanted to. Not because her mother told her to. She can’t remember the last time she said “no” to what her mother wanted from her. How could she? Like her daughter, Ms. Emerson was a wreck underneath the put together façade. Ever since her dearly beloved husband died three years ago, she’s been hiding her true feelings of loss and devastation. Everyone has their own way of coping with grief. Ms. Emerson’s is putting all her time and effort into making Prose an image of perfection. Prose’s way of dealing with her father’s death, is letting her mother do this to her.

She thinks of this now as she’s heading home from school under the blue sky and bright sun. At first, when her mother started acting this way, Prose didn’t really think much of it. We’re both healing. She needs to be that way to stop thinking about Daddy. That’s what she had told herself a few days after her father’s tragic and sudden heart failure. Ms. Emerson never moved on though. And though Prose misses her father terribly everyday, she is still able to carry on with her life, reasonably content. Letting her mother dress her in all these clothes, and sign her up for all those vocal classes and instrument lessons seemed alright because her mother was finally paying attention to her.

Do I even like singing? Prose asks herself as she stuffs her hands in her jacket pockets, looking at her flat covered feet as she walks. The cobblestone of the sidewalk feels nice under her feet, like a massage of sorts. No. She answers the same for piano, guitar, golf, tennis, sewing, cooking, and all the other various “hobbies” she has. The only activity her mother got her into that she actually enjoyed was classical ballet. Yet for three years, she put up with the other classes anyway. And she put up with the way her mother would flaunt Prose around at her father’s old students’ parties like she was some sort of award winning dog. And she dealt with how everyone thought her to be absolutely flawless.

The afternoon’s light breeze ruffles Prose’s hair a bit, sending curls flying into her eyes. Laughing lightly, she stops to readjust her backpack before continuing on her way home. There was only a block left before she was home. Only once she realizes her mother will be there waiting to drive her to piano lessons, she slows her pace down. Why was it so difficult to tell her mother that she hated, no, detested piano? That she wasn’t interested in the performing arts as a serious profession. Her passion had always been with literature. This made sense, considering her deceased father was an English Professor. She was named after a writing technique for heaven’s sake! Her father always said it was his favorite writing word because of how crisp yet sweet it sounded.

Prose often practiced in her mind, what it would be like if she ever told her mother she was going to quit all of those activities. She imagined to moment to be shining, and brilliant. She could almost taste the freedom on her tongue. Only, she’d have to feel her mother’s disappointment and anger as well. Prose was really the only person her mother had left, so how could she hurt her mother even more than the damage already done? No, it was safer this way, for both of them. Her going along with whatever her mother wanted was somewhat of a routine now. That was the rhythm of her life. To break out of the rhythm would be like changing the steps to her ballet routine, unspeakable.

She’s so lost in her own thoughts she doesn’t notice the sky noticeably darken.

The first raindrop lands on her nose. She stops walking and looks up at the sky, her brow furrowing at the sight. Her sun is gone, hidden behind the imminent storm clouds that certainly weren’t there a few minutes ago. The next one lands on her cheek. Smiling, she continues to walk towards home, thinking of this miracle.

Prose always associated rain with her father, because her father was always fascinated by it. Whenever there was rain, her father would take her outside, and they’d dance together, hand in hand. He’d take pictures of the falling droplets, even quote lines from poems dedicated to rain. So naturally, Prose thought it to be a beautiful thing. It’s falling thicker and faster now, and Prose can’t help but stop to admire it.

Holding her hands out, she watches the clear drops run in between her slender fingers. Unable to contain her excitement any longer, she drops her school bag on the pavement beside her, and kicks off her shoes. The sidewalk is smooth and cool beneath her bare feet as she walks slowly into the road. Soon her jacket is discarded too, and she doesn’t even think of how her mother will scold her for ruining such an expensive piece of clothing. Prose isn’t thinking anymore. The free falling rain has her under a trance, and all she can do is hold her arms straight out, and twirl.

The pink sundress fans out around her as she twirls under the rainwater, surrounding her like she’s some bizarre flower. Her chestnut curls are now soaked and cling to her forehead as she spins around and around under the gray sky. No one sees her bare feet and her crazy dancing in the rain. Even if they did, she is beyond caring. Beads of water run down her pale shoulders, and some droplets ricochet off of the pavement and onto her legs.

Abruptly, Prose stops her dancing. She looks around, gasping breathlessly, a huge grin on her face. She thinks of how long it’s been since the last time she acted this way – freethinking, carefree of what others would think if they saw her. Not caring what her mother would say. She ignores the fact that once the rain shower is over, she will have to go back to her reality, and that this carefree mood will wash away with the rain. So she tries to prolong the moment, and just stand in the middle of the road, underneath the million falling crystals.

Meanwhile, Ms. Emerson is worried because her daughter is still not home. She sits at the table in the parlor, sipping her tea. Movement from the window catches her eye. She almost drops her teacup at the sight she sees, Prose standing in the middle of the street, drenched.

Ms. Emerson is out the door and walking speedily towards her daughter before Prose can even register where the yelling is coming from. Puzzled, she turns towards the voice hysterically yelling “Prose! Prose!” and is horrified to find her mother waving at her wildly.

She watches in amusement as Ms. Emerson begins to lecture her. “Prose Emerson! Get out of the rain this instant, what do you think you’re doing dressed like that in the middle of the road? You could get run over!”

Prose ignores her mother, and instead, turns her face up towards the sky. The rain has lessened now, and it’s just a light drizzle. The raindrops patter down against her cheeks, like they’re kissing her skin. She closes her eyes and just feels the cold slippery water against her face.

“Prose!” Her mother cries. “You have to get cleaned up you have a piano lesson in twenty minutes! Are you listening to me?”

When Prose can no longer feel anything falling onto her skin, she opens her eyes in bewilderment. The rain has stopped. Does this mean she has to go back to the role she plays, of the perfect daughter? Without metrical structure. She recalls the definition of her name. The rain may have stopped falling, but the feeling the rain granted her lingers inside of her. Light, easy, carefree. Images of her father swim up to the front of her mind.

She wishes she could be like the rain, flowing without shape, going wherever it wants to go. Always moving, never having to fall when people demand it, only stopping on it’s own accord. No one can command it, it is independent.

Her mother is huffing impatiently and stomps towards her daughter, hands on her hips. “Honestly Prose, what has gotten into you? What were you thinking, being in the rain like that? Let’s go home.”

“I wasn’t thinking.”

“Obviously.” Her mother sighs exasperatedly. “Now go get your things, they’re probably all ruined now. Are you shivering? You’re going to catch a cold, just watch. And you have a choir concert this weekend; how do you expect to do well on your solo if you lose your voice? Now go back inside and clean yourself up.” Ms. Emerson goes on, not noticing that while she has headed back towards the house, Prose has remained unmoving in the middle of the road.

“No.” Prose says firmly, looking straight at the back of her mother’s head.

Turning around, her mother gives her a stunned look. “What was that, honey?” As if she couldn’t believe the word Prose had just uttered. Prose couldn’t believe it either. The first time she’d said that word to her mother in the last three years. The word felt bitter and new, but confident on her tongue.

“I said no, Mom.” Mrs. Emerson’s eyes widen for just a fraction of a second before they narrow at her daughter menacingly.

“No to what?” She almost screeches.

Prose can only shrug. “Anything. Everything. I’m done.” She turns away from her mother and looks towards the sky, where the clouds have parted, revealing her sun once more. It shines brightly and sends rays of warmth through Prose’s scalp all the way down to her still bare feet. She wonders if her father is in the sky, and would he approve of her behavior?

As if answering her prayers, a drop of rain falls from the sky, right into Prose’s outstretched hand.

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