A story about a lost friend.
The Rain on My Umbrella
It’s a new year. A new start. A terrible new start, I might add.
I didn’t want to look, because there was wailing sirens on the street and I was crying, crying. The rain on my umbrella seemed so sad, it could’ve been the tears of the sky. The boom of fireworks only reminded me of how much I missed, how much I hated about everything.
Boom. Crack. Hiss.
The happiness of the fireworks was drowned into nothing by the body being wheeled into the ambulance.
The rain mixed with my tears and I wondered, I wondered if the rain was all tears anyway.
Bright colors filled the sky. Bright, bright fireworks.
But they weren’t going to make me any happier. If anything, it was a sad reminder.
A sad reminder that someone was slipping away too fast.
And as the person in the ambulance was being carried away to the hospital, the ambulance’s lights flashing and sirens blaring, the rain seemed to stop.
It just stopped.
All of a sudden, there’s no pit pat on my umbrella anymore.
It’s just tears now.
12/31/17 9:00 PM
I flipped through the worn, written-on pages of my journal that I had gotten a year ago. I saw all the messy handwriting scribbled on each page. I remembered the events that filled the pages. Friends, school, family, pets, and strangers were all involved.
But the page I was really looking for was this one. The first page I had written on in this journal.
It was Near Year’s Day. It was that day...
That day.
Five and a half pages were filled with words after empty, hollow words. They were so fake, I didn’t even understand how I lied to myself right then, or why I even felt like lying to myself anyway. The pages had lies after lies about the fun fireworks, delicious food, and having fun with friends.
Rystalline was missing from it all.
But in that actual day, that day, she was in half of it. Most of it, actually. I was thinking about her the whole day, the whole month. The whole year.
The only time I mentioned her by name in the entire journal was near the end of the first page. Subtle to any outsider, but to me, she was everything.
I wish Rys was here.
Which was subtle enough that even my parents wouldn’t understand. They didn’t know my nickname for Rystalline.
And towards the middle of the journal, sometime in July, I had mentioned her again. With no mention of name, though.
I lost a friend. Or rather, I am a lost friend.
Without thinking, a tear dropped and splattered on the page.
I closed the journal and flung it to the side. Why did I have to remind myself of her?
Don’t hold on to the past, Iana.
That’s what Rystalline said so often.
I hated her. No, I hated that car. That car.
Deep breath, Iana, deep breath.
You can do this.
You’re strong and smart.
Iana, you are amazing. You can survive this.
“No, I can’t,” I whispered to myself. “I’m weak, I’m dumb, I’m terrible, I’m so bad at this. I can’t even forget about Rystalline.” A quiet sob emerged.
But... I could feel her speaking to me, I can come back.
“You can?” I said. “I didn’t know.”
And just like that, a small piece of paper floated through my bedroom window.
Meet me at the park before midnight.
My eyes widened at the note. I immediately threw on a coat and rushed downstairs, outside. Really? Rys could come back?
There wasn’t much time. If I didn’t leave soon, midnight would come and everything would be ruined.
Leaves rustled in the wind. Heavy drops of rain began to splatter on the ground.
Shivering, I looked around. No one would be in the park so late at night.
“Iana,” a quiet voice whispered. I whipped around, expecting to see Rystalline, but instead, there was a petite old lady. “You know me.”
I shook my head. “No, I’m sorry, I don’t.”
“You know me.”
I squinted my eyes and stared at the old lady. “I really can’t tell.”
“I know who you’re thinking about.”
The old lady nodded. “That’s me.”
My mouth dropped open. “That’s— that’s impossible! You’re not that old!”
“You think so? Look at yourself.”
I didn’t move.
“Go on, you’re not a monster.”
I stared down at my hands. Wrinkly. “Rystalline... what did you do?”
“We’re in the death realm, obviously. I’m not alive.”
“But... I’m turning old.”
“That happens to everyone in death.”
“Rystalline!” I yelled, furious. “Get me out of here!”
“We can’t, Iana... it’s not the do-over day.”
“And what day might that be?”
Rystalline sighed. “New Year’s Eve.”
“That’s today!” My face immediately lit up. “Rystalline, that’s today!”
“Today?” Rystalline looked at me, her eyes wide. “You can go back... to last year, I guess. It would to me a great favor if you went.”
“And what about you? Why aren’t you going to go?”
“Me... I can’t. It’s against the rules.”
“What rules?”
“The rules of death. It’s very complicated.”
Rystalline took a deep breath and ran over to hold my hand. She dragged me to a bushy area in the corner of the park, where we used to play hide and seek.
Used to.
The two of us kept going until we reached a patch of dirt between two particular bushes. I always thought it was a funny little patch because it looked so out of place, but I knew why it was there now. Rystalline kicked away the dirt there and a shiny silver block appeared, no bigger than the size of one’s palm. Rystalline picked it up.
“This is our key,” she said. I nodded in response, trying to hide my confusion.
Rystalline lifted the block and muttered some quiet words into it. All I could make out were “New Year’s Eve 2016” and “go back.”
Then silence.
I closed my eyes, waiting for something to happen. Nothing did. At least, not for a few seconds. After that, though, something did happen.
Next thing I knew, I was in a screaming crowd of people. Rystalline was next to me, eyeing the countdown timer. It took me a moment to realize where I was. Of course, the staff were doing their last checks with the fireworks that would brighten the night sky only minutes later. Rain began to drizzle but no one cared.
After all, it was New Year’s Eve.
This was me and Rystalline’s first time watching the fireworks in person. We were so excited. We might be on TV, after all.
All the memories rushed back to me. Us begging our parents to let us come. The overload of food we bought. Rystalline being so excited to get a front seat, we arrived here hours early.
And of course, the impending doom.
TV crews were interviewing some people about this year’s fireworks, and taking footage of the scene. The two of us shoved through the crowd to try and get our way into the cameras, but the only thing we got were rude looks.
The drizzle of rain turned into a shower. I rummaged through my bag for my umbrella and opened it to cover both me and Rystalline.
“Thanks,” Rystalline said. She smiled.
That was the last smile she gave me, last time I was here.
This time, I would make sure that it would not be her last.
Rystalline leaned against me as the countdown timer said 00:00:30.
Then 00:00:29.
It was getting close to the start of the fireworks show.
“Fifteen seconds left!” I said eagerly. Rystalline nodded, but didn’t smile. Just like last year.
For some reason, I was getting worried.
“Ten!” the crowd around us shouted in unison.
“Nine!” This time we joined in, and the shouting got louder.
Fireworks exploded in the sky. My eyes stared in awe. I’d never seen this firework show in person before, and it was so much better than on a TV screen.
A grin grew on my face.
After a minute or so of fireworks, Rystalline poked me. “Fireworks are fun and cool, but I’m thirsty and I ran out of Coke.”
My mouth opened to say no, but the word didn’t form.
“Iana? Earth to Iana!”
I snapped my head to face her. I wanted to say “no,” but the only word I said was “yes.”
Inside, I felt a knot growing.
Rystalline dragged me forward, weaving through the crowd and finally getting to the street. There were a few cars driving along. Which car had... been the one?
I didn’t know. I tried stalling Rystalline as long as possible, pulling her back and complaining about her running too fast. But she kept dragging me towards the street. A car whizzed by, a good twenty miles over the speed limit.
That must have been the one.
I finally released my breath and let Rytalline drag me out onto the street.
I turned my head to my right and saw a car hurtling towards us. I tried to yell “stop!” to Rystalline, but I was so scared that no sound formed.
My heart skipped a beat.
The car finally braked, only a few feet from crashing into us. I sighed a breath of relief, knowing that it was okay.
My hand loosened its grip on the umbrella that I forgot that I was holding. The rain on my umbrella seemed to calm down as well, the shower turning into a drizzle and slowly, slowly fading away.
I felt Rystalline jerk me forward. “Iana, what are you staring at? I’m thirsty! Really thirsty! And the driver is getting really mad at us!”
My head didn’t turn.
I spun around to face Rystalline. “Sorry,” I said quietly.
Rystalline kept dragging me forward, and once we got on the sidewalk, she laughed. “Never seen you so distracted.”
“Again, sorry,” I said, this time louder.
“No need,” Rystalline replied. I smiled.
Rystalline must have just thought that her laugh was contagious, but the real reason I was smiling was because I happy. Truly happy.
I saw Rystalline smile again.
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