I sat on the cold kitchen counter leaning against the window. My mother walked in soaked, threw her coat on the floor and stormed into her room. I was never the one to curl up in a blanket near the fire when it rained. No, rain wasn’t beautiful to me. It was evaporated sewer water smashing down onto our heads. It was just muddy water pouring out of the swirling black sky. The skyscrapers weren’t majestuous and tall, they bent down in fear and seemed to tremble. The lights of the city were covered by the dark fog. The pebbles tapped onto my window angrily, and I stared back at the sky defiantly. I hated the filth, the cold, the sadness.
It only rained once in St. Didier. This rain was blue, its raindrops were plump and softer than the tiny daggers I was used to. I remember the row of colorful crocs outside the door. I always took the worn orange ones with the broken strap; they had formed to my feet over the years even if my heels stubbornly stuck out. I remember how the green vines slowly circled around the faded blue shutters, climbing up the small stone house. I remember the glimpses of the goldfish in the murky brown water of the little lion head fountain. Sometimes we sat and listened to the irregular dribbling of the clear, cold water. When it rained that one day, the air was heavy and fresher than usual, the vines greener and darker, more alive: I always thought they seemed to breathe. The goldfish swam up to the surface,
kissing the tears of the clouds that kept rippling onto the muddy water. We
collected a family of snails, fascinated by their green, yellow swirls. I remember
letting the smallest one slither down my finger. I remember the pitter-patter of our
little feet on the crooked, cold, wet stone slabs. I remember grabbing the big rusty
key and grimacing as we heard the creaking sound of the black gate. As soon as
we were off the sharp gravel and in the wet grass, we ran to the white waters of
the small pool. A whiff of joyful sweat, a strand of hay colored hair, a brownish
leg covered in little sprouts of blond. A smile from my father on the ladder,
leaning over the dying hedge. He twisted and pulled, then turned around and
threw. The neighbor’s apricots bobbed up and down slowly before one of us
grabbed it. I remember the sunshine, the juicy sweetness of those apricots. The
thrill of them not being ours. We didn’t care if the orange juice trickled down our
chins and into the pool. My mother had her hair up, clipped into a bun. She sat on
the wooden long chairs along with my aunts and grandmother. I remember
standing on my uncle’s big shoulders in the warm pool, him squeezing my hands
before he propelled me into the foggy layer of sky. I remember the feeling of
embracing my squirming baby cousin, of unclasping his tight little fingers, of
detangling his wet curls. I remember the smell of the apricots, of the dry lavender,
of our summer shampoo, of the black and white cat gracefully lying on the stone
wall. I remember the steam rising over us, and the bubbles created by the myriad
of falling diamonds. It perplexed me how the water could rise up and yet fall
downwards at the same time. Every year we returned to that house, and I came to
realize that as the years went by, the chestnut tree blackened. As we grew, the
apricots shrunk. Those apricots were seasonal, yet they always reappeared when
we came to Provence. That apricot tree is now gone; it shriveled and collapsed. And yet, that memory changed me forever.
I looked at the classroom window, back in New York. It started to rain and I became uneasy. I still hated the rain here. When the doors opened and students started to pour out, I opened my umbrella and ran along with the others trying to escape being soaked.
And then, I saw it. The sky. It was different, it was softer, it was dripping water and not throwing needles. I stopped running and I started to walk, I closed my umbrella and took off my hood. I slowed down to a stop. A raindrop dripped down my forehead and ran down my ear. My hair became covered in tiny little crystals. I took a twenty minute stroll to get back to my house just a few blocks away. People stared, people asked, people judged. I didn’t care. It all came flooding back to me like the water flooded down the street. I understood why kids splash around and laugh at a deluge like if it will do no harm. I became a kid that day, the rain rinsed down my heart and my worries were swept away with it.
We kept coming back to that stone house every summer.
It never rained again the years and years that we returned. I doubt it ever will. And yet, it doesnt even matter to me. One single time in St. Didier was enough: it made me learn to love the rain no matter where I am.
Allegra Brogard, Age 14, Grade 9, Lycee Francais De NY, Gold Key