A lot of people I know have been feeling a little down, lately. Sometimes I just want to get everyone and wrap them up in a big blanket and squish them and hold them all day long. But that’s just not possible. I asked my friend, Gina, what would make her feel better and she said a story would help. A romantic, hopeful story. So I wrote one. The title comes from the wonderful photographer and blogger, Frances of Blogjem and Daytrippers; it is something her own father used to say to her (thanks again for letting me use it, Frances).
This is dedicated to everyone who needs a little lift….
Rose’s father ran a store in the city selling umbrellas, rain coats, all manner of rain-related gear. Rainy Days and Mondays he called it. It was an enormously profitable business, particularly since he got the students from the local design school to design umbrella prints in limited editions. Those umbrellas were cool – there was no other way to describe them – with their slogans and images that exploded onto the landscape.
On rainy days Rose felt as if the city belonged to her father. Everywhere she looked she saw one of his umbrellas. People commented on how much she smiled when it rained, but she couldn’t help it with so many of her father’s creations catching her eye from street corners and doorways.
Her father favoured only one umbrella. A rarity designed by the famous Parisian designer Bernard De La Pluie. It was deep red, a plain weave made from silk and cotton. The shaft was fashioned from walnut and the handle was etched with De La Pluie’s signature. It was extremely valuable and beautiful. People commented on it whenever her father used it.
Despite its beauty the De La Pluie umbrella was fragile. Rose’s father feared its deterioration. He used it sparingly. So when the rain was light he would take her hand and gaze up at the glistening sky, moving slightly from one foot to the next as he gauged the speed with which the raindrops fell. When he had ascertained their rhythm he would shout RUN and together they would plunge over the wet streets in between the fall of the raindrops, sheltering under trees until it was safe to run again. It was a game between only them. A precious thing they shared. Whenever it rained Rose would pray that the rain would fall lightly and that her father would have time to run between the raindrops with her.
One day Elaine came. She captivated Rose’s father with her tight skirts and swinging hips. She looked at Rose with a curled lip, saying : You’re very plain, aren’t you?
It wasn’t long before Rose’s father confided that he was in love, that he and Elaine would be married.
Rose felt sick on the wedding day. Her father had puppy dog eyes and a new suit that puckered at the shoulders. Elaine shimmered in champagne-coloured lace. They danced to Your Song by Elton John.
Rose caught sight of herself in the mirror near the kitchen. Her face was puckered like her father’s suit. And very plain.
Soon after Elaine suggested Rose move out. That she was too old to be living at home. Rose’s father apologised but did not object.
Elaine was a quick worker. One day she emptied out all of Rose’s father’s bank accounts then disappeared. Rose’s father sat in the kitchen drinking tea and listening to Your Song over and over again. He refused to open the store. Rose got into a panic. She didn’t know what to do. The bills piled up on the kitchen table unopened.
It rained for two weeks, a light, soft rain that should have been comforting. Rose didn’t run between the raindrops once; she had decided to reopen the store. The umbrellas had almost sold out. She asked her father what to do but he was sitting in the kitchen eating dry cereal from the box and weeping. She could get no sense out of him.
Sam walked in just as Rose sold her last umbrella. I’ve sold out, she said, biting her lip.
I’ll help you get some more, Sam said.
Sam bought new stock, dressed the windows with jolly umbrellas and helped Rose pay the bills. She told her father she had given Sam a job. He stopped gazing out the window for a moment but was otherwise unmoved.
The rains came swiftly. Rose and Sam opened the store early to cope with the rush. The streets were clean-washed and blue, smelling of autumn. They sold all of their new stock in three days and were able to put some money in the bank.
The design students wanted to run another series of limited edition umbrellas called Crying In The Rain. The umbrellas were printed with eyes and tears. It caused a frenzy. People called from all over the world to secure a Crying In The Rain umbrella. Rose and Sam were interviewed by the local news station. They made so much money they could afford to buy Rose’s father a ticket to Paris to visit the factory of Bernard De La Pluie. The excitement of the trip broke him out of his melancholy.
One night a wind blew up from the south full of magic and whimsy. Rose and Sam had just received several boxes full of umbrellas.
Let’s unpack them tomorrow, Sam said. I’m hungry.
They locked the store, caught off guard by a light rain that had begun to fall. The only unpacked umbrella was Rose’s father’s. I’ll get my father’s De La Pluie umbrella, Rose said.
Don’t worry, Sam said. We can run between the raindrops.
Rose looked at him, wondering how he knew, taking his hand as the wind cavorted at her heels. She caught sight of herself in a shop window as they ran and danced. She was no longer plain and puckered. With hope held high in her heart she plunged into a night that tasted only of good things, as Sam’s gentle breath caressed her face.