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Rain Dance MAG
I can’t play with Gracie today. Mommy says that all the aliens have to stay inside. I asked her why, and she said that they can’t touch the rain. I asked her why, and she said because. And I don’t know what that means, because because isn’t an answer.
They’ve only been here for seven months, and they’ve never had to go inside before. I thought Gracie would be out here celebrating with me, playing like we normally do. I especially thought she’d be out here dancing today because it’s the first time that it has rained in a long time. I don’t know why the rain makes it different. Out on the street, there are people everywhere, dancing. They all have big smiles on their faces. It is cramped and steamy, the rain making the road smoke a little. It is misty purple, of course, and it is starting to smell like melty sidewalk. Mommy stays with her friends, laughing and twirling umbrellas.
“I’m going to go play, Mommy!” I yell at her through the noisy rain. It is loud when it bounces off the rusty tin roofs. “Over there!” I point to where the rest of the kids from the district are playing. Twirling her blue umbrella, she offers me a freckle-y smile.
I run over to the front of the Marvins’ house, the one that always has the white hopscotch drawings on the sidewalk in front of it. There are a lot of kids there, screeching in joy and jumping on the squares. Someone is bouncing a ball.
“Hi Vinny!” Morgan says, waving her hand high above her head. “Come play with us!”
I walk over, nervously grabbing the bottom of my t-shirt and fiddling with it. “Hi Morgan!” I say. I try to sound cheerful, but I feel guilty instead. “Um,” I start, and the rest of the kids look at me. “Have any of you seen Gracie?” Ron stops hopscotching. “I’ve looked everywhere, and I can’t find her.”
They are quiet for a minute, and I feel guilty again. Why aren’t they looking for her too? She always plays hopscotch with us after school, and I feel bad because she is missing the rain. Where could she be?
Morgan laughs. “What do you mean, Vinny?” She says, confused. “All of the aliens are inside. They can’t come out in the rain!”
What? Why did she have the same answer as Mommy? “But why?” I ask, unsatisfied with the same answer as before. “Gracie always plays with us. Why does she have to stay inside?”
This time, Ron laughs. He shuffled his foot over the white chalk hopscotch. “Because, Vinny. They’re aliens! They can’t come outside today!” Sammy crosses his arms over the ball, stopping the bouncing sound.
“Come on Vinny, you always play with Gracie!” he says. “She’s an alien. Don’t forget who your real friends are.”
I cock my head, and the guilty feeling comes back again. What did he mean, real friends? Gracie is my real friend. Ever since she came here seven months ago and moved in next to me. She always played with me. Sammy and Ron and Morgan, they never did. I needed to find Gracie.
I turn and run back down the street, away from the Marvins’ and hopscotch. Toward Gracie’s house. Everyone said she was inside, so she must be at home. I run on the steaming cement, dodging dancing people and yellow twirling umbrellas. Finally, I arrive at the tall flats where Gracie lives. I step over the white chalk line that divides the ground between our two houses.
There were no people, anymore. It is too quiet, the sounds muffled. I could still see a few of them from around the corner, and I could still kind of hear them laughing and singing. There is hardly anyone on my street. I step back and back, trying to get a good look at her window. It is foggy, because of the rain, of course.
But I can see her.
She is sitting on the normal windowsill that we always sit on at her house. Her dark hand is holding her face, and she stares out the window, down at the street. She looks sad. Her other hand is drawing shapes in the foggy window. I wave and wave at her, but she doesn’t see me. I try jumping, but the rain seems to keep pushing me down. I feel guilty that she can’t play with us in the purple rain.
I walk up to the front steps of her flat, and notice a bright purple sign taped to her door. The words are in bold white letters, with lots of exclamation points.
ATTENTION! ACID RAINFALL ON 77/2234. THIS HUMAN DISTRICT IS REQUIRED TO REMAIN INDOORS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE!!
I sit on her steps until the rain stops and Mommy makes me step over the white chalk line again.