The Borrowed Umbrella
By Sandy Lo
December in Manhattan was bitter and hectic. Dee Dee ventured in the city anyhow, along with her eldest sister, CeCe. They took the express bus from Staten Island. The weather, according to CeCe, who checked things such as traffic and news, suspected an early evening drizzle. CeCe brought an umbrella in spite of Dee Dee’s protest that it was sunny out and meteorologists are never accurate these days.
The sisters were heading to see a Broadway show, an after Christmas tradition for them. Dee Dee was on winter break from college, and had missed comforts such as catching a movie with an old friend or family member. Going away to college was something Dee Dee thought would be life changing. And it was—just not the most amazing thing to happen in all her eighteen years, like she had hoped. She gained some independence, and found an inner confidence she always lacked—especially when dealing with her parents. Aside from that, Dee Dee hadn’t made many friends on campus in upstate New York. She spent most nights in her dorm room writing stories, songs and poems. Writing had always been her escape—it was her own form of therapy.
Just as Dee Dee and CeCe were getting off the bus, rain began to slowly fall. They were running late for the show as it was, and bad weather didn’t make it any easier to get around the crowded city. CeCe immediately pulled out her umbrella and opened it.
“Here,” she handed Dee Dee another umbrella, a red one that she grimaced at.
“I don’t want one.”
CeCe rolled her eyes, “Fine, get soaked then. You’re hatred of umbrellas is ridiculous.”
And Dee Dee knew her repulsion for such a simple contraption was in fact silly, but she couldn’t help but to resent the object. She could never resent the rain, though, not any more than she could hate the sun. Reluctantly, she opened the umbrella, not wanting her hair to be a wet mess by the time they got to the show.
Still, in no way was Dee Dee happy about succumbing to using an umbrella. She tried to follow behind CeCe on the congested New York City block. The umbrella would occasionally tilt forward making it hard for her to see where she was going at the hurried pace she was keeping. Dee Dee hated to be late and it was common to be late when dealing with weather and traffic in this city that often made her feel claustrophobic—not to mention her entire family ran late for most things.
As the sisters got closer to the theater, the wind picked up. Dee Dee’s red umbrella flipped inside out; pulling her back with the force. She groaned loudly, trying to hold onto the umbrella. The wind calmed a moment later, and CeCe was laughing. Dee Dee chuckled as well; it was comical as much as it was annoying.
They finally reached the entrance of the theater when another gust of wind blew. This time, Dee Dee didn’t have a strong enough grip on the umbrella. The red nylon looked like a parachute as it went flying into the street where a truck ran it over, crushing the metal and tearing the material.
Dee Dee went into a fit of hysteria. She had tears in her eyes as she laughed, now covered by the awning of the theater. CeCe huffed.
“That is the last time I’m letting you borrow an umbrella!”
Dee Dee shrugged, “I told you umbrellas are nothing but a hassle.”
She smiled, knowing on the way home she wouldn’t mind getting wet. She didn’t want protection. She loved not worrying about how she looked at the end of the day. She wouldn’t mind the raindrops hitting her head. She wouldn’t mind walking from the bus stop, hearing the sloshing of her shoes. It was natural. It made her think of summer time. She was always the first one to jump in the swimming pool; never afraid to get wet like some girls she knew. She liked to jump in with both feet and not be afraid. Walking in the rain was some representation of facing life bravely—as silly as that seemed.
Dee Dee faintly heard CeCe complaining about the demolished umbrella as they walked into the theater. CeCe struggled to close her black umbrella. Dee Dee hoped one day she wouldn’t need protection from people and issues in life, just like she didn’t need it from the rain. She wanted to look at her father like a raindrop; he would just roll off her back. The kids on her campus who partied and made her feel different would fall to the floor in a puddle at her feet. The people Dee Dee lost in her life—like Grandma—would be reflected back to her in that puddle, bringing peace to her heart.
Dee Dee looked back at the umbrella; then back at her sister, realizing all CeCe wanted to do was protect her. She was grateful for that. Being the baby in the family, all any of her siblings wanted to do was protect her—maybe too much at times. Dee Dee knew she could be stubborn, refusing to ever bring an umbrella being a perfect example of that, but she also knew she would have to fight for her independence. The destroyed umbrella represented that: the battle Dee Dee had won.