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Nora and Eloise - Noelle Wells

On a night when the rain was warm and the wind a closed fist, an umbrella printed with a silhouette of Paris was turned inside out by a gust of storm and thrown carelessly into the trash on the corner of a distant city sidewalk.

 

The umbrella delicate and lovely as she was, wept. What a fate for such a brief, little life! To be made so beautiful yet so weak of frame, that the very purpose of her existence was doomed from the start. She wondered what life could have been for her had not death moved in so quickly. The rainwater fell down her cheeks as tears while she lay wedged between unworthy bits of banana and an old egg sandwich.  

 

A girl, young, but almost a woman, left a small diner with a group of friends. They weren’t really her friends. She was lonely, obviously, but loved the rain, the way it packed the heavy air down then swept it away, cooling but not making cold.  

 

She wandered away from the group. They barely noticed as is the common issue when you haven’t fit in. The friends crossed the street, cackling and gabbing amongst themselves. The girl remained at the corner in a periwinkle coat, her face lifted towards the sky while the rain melted over her like butter. She didn’t own any umbrella and the wind, wicked and wild, made her feel less solid and more paper thin. Which she loved.

 

 The girl did not know what she thought about most things, but she did believe that warm rain warranted a pause and there was no movement of life that should overcome that pause. The girl stood there as long she liked. She was young, nowhere she needed to go, and she liked that.

 

Eventually she moved to the corner to cross the street when she spied the overly ornate handle of a discarded umbrella peering over the side of a trash can. The girl almost thought nothing of it, but the girl akin to impulses over dying things, couldn’t walk past. She lingered waiting for no one to look as she didn’t want to be side eyed for picking things out of the trash. She thought the black and white Parisian umbrella was so lovely, like a pantomime of a dream from a favorite book, that there was no other solution but to hide the fragile damaged thing in her coat and take it home. Of course, the girl always bought slightly large coats for this reason.

 

 She had a delightful time walking the city that evening wet from head to toe with her new friend.  The girl knew immediately that the umbrella would always be her friend and there would be no trial period, which was a comfort, for she was weary of trying out potential friends.

 

 Eventually, as most businesses started winding down the girl peered the soft light of one café still open. She went inside hoping for croissants and hot chocolate to warm her in the middle of such a wet night. She set the umbrella in the chair across from her, so no one would think her alone and ask to sit with her.

 

The umbrella cracking open her eyes for the first time since being taken by the girl could not understand where she was and how it was that she was not dead. She wondered briefly if the sugary smells and low light were the first whiffs of umbrella heaven, but the crookedness in her frame reminded her she was still in the first life granted to her. The umbrella was surprised to see the girl looking at her, intently and more directly than most humans would an umbrella,

 

“What’s your name?” The girl asked.

 

The umbrella shook some of the water out of her fabric and straightened herself as best she could,

 

“Eloise,” she replied politely, “And you?”

 

“Nora, thank you for asking. I saw you in the trash and couldn’t walk by. You’re very beautiful. It seemed such a waste for you to be thrown away when you are only a little broken. “

The umbrella shook a little. A little broken! What a statement, her bones were so out of place that her function as an umbrella for all of time was surely thwarted,

 

“Well, what I am is useless! Look at you, wet as anything, with me as an umbrella all you’ll ever be is wet!”

 

Nora smiled, dipping her croissant in her hot chocolate in such a way Eloise was sure was not the proper way,

 

“I don’t mind being wet,” Nora said,” In fact I like it! Don’t you think people should get wet more often? I know tonight I will value my dry clothes more deeply on account of how wet I got tonight. “

 

Eloise paused, she herself didn’t mind the feeling of rain pelting against her when she was held over her previous owner's head. Perhaps she and Nora were not very different,

 

“I understand,” Eloise began,” I find water remarkable, like being covered in a fine gown for some important ball,”

 

“I agree,” said Nora,” And how when it rains everyone just races to get away from it so if you stay behind, everything in the world is yours and all the secrets I could’ve never known anything about start creeping out. When I was younger, not that I do it anymore,” but Nora was lying she still believed in what she was going to say completely,” I thought that rain was the perfect time to go and find fairies. Silly, I know?”

 

“Not very,” responded Eloise, “I admit in my brief life I witnessed wonders in the rain, of course I was always looking up but when you stare at anything long enough, the hidden parts are bound to emerge,”

 

Nora was pleased, and pushed her croissant towards Eloise,

 

“Want some? I think we’ll be great friends. I love umbrellas and I don’t mind being wet, so maybe you are the perfect umbrella for me? “

 

Eloise brightened, feeling relief and a small happiness that in her malfunction she could still have purpose.

 

For Nora and Eloise that is how it began. Perhaps a day could come when Nora would need to be dry but for the days ahead and the time at hand when nothing was quite so important as warm rain after hot days, there was not a pair to be found who seemed quite as happy enjoying puddles and searching for fairies (discreetly) in rainstorm, sunshine, starry night, and fog. Nora and Eloise, not quite curing their loneliness, had at the least divided it in half.

 

Noelle Wells works as a counselor and in abuse advocacy. Her work has appeared before in Calla Press, Ekstasis, and Heart of Flesh Literary Journal. She writes poetry and short stories, with a focus on themes around trauma, first person narrative, and often employs magical realism.

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DL Moody
DL Moody
Jun 06

Vivid, creative, and thoughtfully illustrates how we all have purpose even if we deem ourselves broken!

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