The Broken Umbrella
By Sandy Lo
It was pouring rain. The kind of rain you stare at from behind your front door; waiting, hoping it will taper off. Dee Dee waited a few minutes, but still the downpour pelted her house, and she could put off walking to the bus stop no more. Opening the door, Dee Dee grabbed her blue umbrella. It was plain, but her mother got it for her before the school year began, when it was still sunny; still summer.
Dee Dee stepped just outside the house, feeling the first drops of rain hit her back as she fumbled with her umbrella, making sure not to open the contraption inside out of fear of bad luck. She pressed the release button on the handle of the umbrella and it snapped open, scaring her somewhat. Dee Dee pushed the sliding piece up until it snapped into place, catching her finger in between the two metal pieces. She winced at the pain and sighed, finally stepping into the rain with the umbrella overhead.
Dee Dee sloshed through puddles on her way to the bus stop, her sneakers and edges of her pants getting wet. She could still feel the rain on her back. It dripped from the sides of her umbrella and as she turned slightly to avoid a fellow umbrella-bearer, the edges of her umbrella collided with hers, causing rain to hit her directly on the forehead and slowly drip down her nose as she struggled to free the blue nylon and thin metal rods from its dueling red umbrella.
By the time 12-year-old Dee Dee and the high schooler were detached from their respective shielding devices, the damage was done. Both girls were slightly soaked and Dee Dee’s umbrella was broken with two bent metal rods and a tear at the end of the blue nylon.
“Watch where you’re going,” the high school girl huffed.
“I’m sorry,” Dee Dee sputtered, not wanting to get into a fight with the much taller, much older teen.
A few blocks later, Dee Dee was finally standing under the shield of the bus stop examining her umbrella. The nylon kept riding up causing the metal rod to stick out dangerously. Rain drops lingering on the metal rods dripped onto her shoe steadily.
An old man stood next to Dee Dee with an oversized black umbrella, still open as if it would offer more protection than the glass casing at the bus stop would. He leaned close to her. His lips appeared folded in, even as he spoke; his glasses thick as he looked at her.
“Do you know if this bus goes to Main Street?”
“Yes,” Dee Dee nodded.
“Thanks, little girl,” the man rasped, which annoyed Dee Dee.
She didn’t like to be thought of as a kid still. She was treated like a child often being the youngest of four. Although she was mature enough to cook complete meals for her family since her mother worked through dinner time. She was also old enough to be alone practically from the time she got off school until she went to bed.
She didn’t take advantage of that time alone like some kids her age would. She didn’t go out without telling her mother. She did her schoolwork. She didn’t feel like a kid at all until her family reminded her she was one, which they did often.
Dee Dee thought about this, and wished she had more time. More time with her mother and her older siblings. More time to enjoy childhood at times, even though she wanted out of it so badly. She wanted to be an adult. She wanted to experience life, like her brother and sisters were.
She wanted some kind of beauty out of life; meaning, poetry. Here she was, though, alone on a bus stop in the pouring rain staring at her broken umbrella. Was there poetry in that?
Dee Dee sighed, thinking there was poetry in this rainy day. She never really minded the rain. There was beauty in it, and the more she stared at her man-made umbrella, she wondered what its purpose really was?
It was a form of protection. It was supposed to protect her from the storm; from the sun even. After all, that’s how umbrellas began—as mere parasols for wealthy people. Yet Dee Dee wasn’t wealthy and wouldn’t dream of shielding herself from the warm sun.
It was like those people at the beach who sat under giant umbrellas. Dee Dee never understand the point of going to the beach if you weren’t going to enjoy all of its benefits. Then, she thought about the rain and how so many people despised it. Why?
Rain gave nutrition to the world. It cooled things down on a hot summer’s day. It helped her sleep better at night. She watched the rain fall; forgetting the bus was taking forever; forgetting she was on her way to another day in junior high, which she was convinced, was hell on Earth. The rain had a calming effect; there was some kind of rhythm to it.
Just then, a metal spoke from the old man’s umbrella poked Dee Dee directly in her right eye as he shook it out before closing it so he could get on the approaching bus. Dee Dee winced, held her eye and glared at the old man who was obviously oblivious as he stepped closer to the curb, holding his umbrella upright once more. She blinked a couple of times and tears squeezed out.
As the bus went through the large intersection, it gained momentum, hit a pothole and came to an abrupt stop in front of Dee Dee, but not before splashing a large puddle onto the young girl, narrowly missing the old man.
Dee Dee was soaked. She dripped from head to toe as if a rain cloud hung over her like she saw on many cartoons from her preschool days. Worse yet, the bus speed off as soon as the old man waddled onto it. Dee Dee was still wiping water from her eyes and grasping what had happened.
Deciding school was not a reasonable option in her drenched physical state and feeling she was entitled to the day off after the circumstances, Dee Dee headed a few blocks away to her mother’s job. She trudged into the office, her shoes making a squish sound as she walked, her broken umbrella looking like a piece of trash, and her hair a mess.
“Dee Dee, why aren’t you at school?” Her mother gasped.
“Look at me, Mom,” she sighed.
“What happened to your umbrella?”
“It doesn’t work. I’m over umbrellas. They’re pointless,” Dee Dee sighed, and plopped down, feeling uncomfortable in her wet clothes, and thinking how no umbrella could fully protect her from Mother Nature and the modern world’s oversized, careless vehicles.
Her mother looked at the state her pouting daughter was in and eyed the broken umbrella before laughing heartily. Dee Dee looked at her mother, who was laughing uncontrollably and cracked a smile.
“It’s not funny, Mom.”
“I’m sorry,” Mom covered her mouth, but couldn’t keep from laughing.
Dee Dee joined in, laughing about the situation as well. Instead of going to school or sitting at home alone, Dee Dee spent the day with her mother, helping her out and drawing funny pictures for the office memo board. They laughed all day and enjoyed lunch and dinner together, a luxury they rarely had those days.
Dee Dee decided rainy days were wonderful, but umbrellas were lost causes that always broke promises.