The rain patters on my little black umbrella, like a tentative knock on a door. I avoid the puddles of murky water lining the streets. I'm so very late. So very, very late. I walk past the brown water, my reflection shining back. Brown hair in an elegant up-do, navy pant suit crisp and clean, high heels click-clacking on the soaked sidewalk. Make-up like frosting, colorful and thick. And that little black umbrella protecting my shining image. I watch a child, 5 at the most, stomp through the puddles, two braids swinging madly, yellow ribbons tying off the ends to match her rain boots. She smiles at me as I pass, black holes where teeth are missing like piano keys. Freckles litter her face. I smile back, all red lips and straight teeth. She splashes drops of water on my navy pants, painting them black. "Emmy! Apologize!" a woman yells, her tired eyes filled with annoyance, a wriggling blue bundle in one arm, a spotted umbrella in another. She stops, strands of dark hair fluttering in her face, and whispers "I'm sorry." I crouch down next to her, and say, my adult voice heavy compared to her musical tone, "It's okay. It's just water." she smiles, and runs after her mommy, who left quickly for a woman carrying that much stuff, bags slung over her back. And then, as I watch her run in a muck of little girl legs, trying to keep up with her mother, I'm reminded I'm five again. I feel my mask of a late 33 year old paralegal with far too much makeup on crack. It splits in two, and they shatter on the slippery pavement. I crunch the pieces of it underneath my high heels. I drop my umbrella and twirl in the rain, pink tongue catching drops of rain. They taste like spring. I'm no longer filled with alcohol and tobacco and caffeine and sex. I'm filled with hugs, and crayons and shared snacks. I'm filled with swing sets and monkey bars and slides. I'm filled with finger painting and naps and new friends. I'm filled with love. And as I walk, umbrella tucked under elbow and high heels stuffed in purse, I breathe in the warm watery air. And as I smile my piano key smile with freckles plastered to my face, I splash in every puddle I see.
August 29, 2011