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The Blue Umbrella This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

Rain has personalities; today it flops limply to the sidewalk as if the trip from the cloud to the ground is immeasurably exhausting. I stomp up the hill with my sister, holding my bright blue umbrella over us. The rain slides languidly off the umbrella in small rivulets.

The dismal weather gives no reason for people to look up. Children, teenagers, and adults alike turn their faces from the half-hearted downpour as trees reluctantly retreat from the cold and water darkens the pavement. The world, I muse, is asking for something bright.

On impulse, I straighten my arm, thrusting my umbrella far above our heads. Soon, people's eyes begin to drift upward. The umbrella's garish color and unusual position make others do a double take, give me a funny look, and sometimes stumble into a puddle. Their brown, black, and gray umbrellas seem to wither in the presence of my blue one, which I resolutely hold higher, a brave flower in the midst of many boring tree stumps.

My sister stares at me exasperatedly. When I cannot pretend that I don't see her glare anymore, I look at her sideways and smile innocently.

“What?”

“What are you doing?” she demands.

“What does it look like I'm doing?” I answer somewhat defensively.

“Holding the umbrella strangely so people will stare,” she says pointedly, grabbing my arm and trying to force it down.

“So?” I raise my eyebrows and the umbrella. “So what if people stare? I'm sure they see it as a pleasant surprise.”

“Or you're a complete head case,” she mutters. She does not pursue the argument. I triumphantly hold the umbrella even higher despite everyone's stares and my arm's throbbing.

As we near our house, people drive by frantically on their way to their next appointment in their perfectly structured suburban lives. But their routine cannot prevent the inevitable stares at my bizarre parade. Someone even smiles and waves.

“As if you need encouragement,” says my sister, but now she is smiling too.

I walk up the steps to our front door with great aplomb, purposely stomping in puddles to accentuate my victory over conventionality. At the top, I throw my arms in the air, dance a celebratory jig, take a bow, and finally lower my umbrella to the relief of my protesting arm.

Rain has different personalities, and today, it turned from lazy and gloomy to mysteriously spirited and rhythmic, falling in time to the music of the world. I linger outside for a moment to appreciate the newly washed streets and wonder why the rain's mood is so capricious today.

I realize that the answer is swinging from my hand, dripping rain. Against the charcoal shading of the clouds, the cement, and the houses, it is not difficult to stand out, but most people choose not to, using drab and dark umbrellas. My umbrella, a glossy piece of fallen summer sky, deviates from normalcy to lift people's eyes and spirits.

Today, pedestrians, drivers, and even the humdrum raindrops break from their regular paths because of a bright blue umbrella. But, I reflect contentedly, some credit must go to me for choosing to carry it in the first place.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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