"What are you doing?"
I didn't pause as I rummaged around in the front closet, which was, quite frankly, a mess. But I turned my head a fraction to answer.
'I'm looking for an umbrella,' I said.
'You're. Looking. For. An. Umbrella,' she said slowly. 'I see.'
'It's going to rain,' I explained, still digging through the morass of coats, scarves, hats, gloves, slippers, and every other odd and end that was currently taking up space in her front closet.
'An umbrella,' she clarified again. 'Since when do you use an umbrella?'
'An umbrella is what people use when it rains, A. C'mon, get with the program. By the way, where the hell do you even keep your umbrellas?'
'No. Stop,' she put a hand on my arm then. It was oddly gentle. Tender almost. I frowned at her hand then turned to face her, hands on hips.
'What's up with you, all of a sudden?' I examined her face, quite perplexed.
'No, we need to speak. Why are you looking for an umbrella? I've known you for eons, and you never used an umbrella! You used to laugh when I mentioned it! You used to run into the rain! What happened to you?!' her voice took a rather hysterical tone. I was a bit concerned.
'Whoa, calm down. What's wrong? Did someone tell you something? Was it C? Did he say something?'
'It's not what my boyfriend did to me that's the problem!' She looked as if she was just about to burst into tears. I made wide-eyes at her, hoping she'd read my concern for her.
'But what's wrong then?' I put my hands on her shoulders, comforting her.
Then she broke down.
I reached behind me and pulled on the first thing I could get a hold of and wiped her face with it, with my other arm holding her close. She finally calmed down and opened her eyes, and burst out laughing at the star-spangled bikini top that was currently wiping her nose. Then just as easily she burst into tears again.
I was bamboozled.
'What's wrong?!' I pleaded.
'Don't you remember you wore that and went dancing in the rain when we had our girl's sleepover?'
'Um, yeah?' I affirmed, cautiously.
'You don't get it! You were so free! You never cared about getting wet in the rain! Now you hate it! You rush indoors and make sure you're all clean and proper, and you...you...you've changed!'
I swallowed. Why was she even getting into this. Why was she reading this much into this? Why now?
'A, come on. It's no big deal. We...we all change. Sometimes it's good. It just means, we've grown up, I guess.'
'But you were so free,' she said tearfully again. 'You were what always inspired me to let go of being fuckin' grown up all the time, to be romantic and all that shit. And now, now you hate the rain.'
'Yeah...no! No. I don't hate it. I just...I can't. It doesn't make sense to go out and get all wet and sick. So, yeah.'
'But that was the point! You used to take the chance to enjoy the moment.You said to just face the sky and accept and whatever, and not to fear something that might not happen because it's how you accept it that makes it worthwhile. You told me all this. I remember, cause that's when I went to C that same day after our talk and see all the good that came from that, because of you.'
'You changed so much...'
'Yeah, but it doesn't mean it's a bad thing, A.'
'It is, you don't even cry anymore. You're all closed up now.'
'Nah, otherwise I'd let you wipe your own boogers. Geez, is this why you don't have a damn umbrella?'
'Forget the umbrella. You're forbidden to use an umbrella!'
'What if I get sick and die?'
'Oh cool, I'm going now.'
'Yeah, I'm kicking you out of my house, is what.'
'Your smelly, filthy, dirty house. I would probably die inhaling the fumes in here.'
'Get on then, geddout.'
I stood up and peered out the front door. It was definitely starting to come down hard. A huge choking feeling came up in the throat.
She stood behind me peering out also. I nudged her out the door and locked the door behind her even before she finished yelping in surprise.
As she knocked and banged the door, yelling obscenities, I sank against the door, sliding down, and finally let my own rain fall.