Autumn Rains, Copyright 2006, Ann Somerville
It’s a totally poofy colour for a brolly, you said.
Fine, I said. But at least I’ll be a dry poof.
This is true, you agreed.
Which is probably why you took my poofy brolly with you when you fucked off out of my life three years ago. You stole a lot of things then. I’d like to be all louche and cool and don’t give a shit, pretend that I miss that umbrella a hell of a lot more than I miss you, but to hell with louche.
To tell the truth, I bought another umbrella the next week. It rained, I needed one. They didn’t have another in that colour. I didn’t look too hard for one. Or for you. No point. You always said when you were gone, you were gone for good. Did a thorough job of it – all the emails, all the files, all the letters. Never had a joint account with me – I knew why after you’d gone.
Didn’t even leave me an explanation. No ties, you said. I’d laughed and agreed, because everyone has ties, even the lonest of lone wolves. But not you. The only thing of me you kept was that poofy brolly, and that was only because it rained the day you left.
Never seen another one that colour, though. I kept a look out for one. Figured if you were right, and it really was a poof’s colour, then hey, if I found it, I’d find me a nice dry poof to go with it. Found plenty of them, but none of them had a brolly. Doesn’t seem to be a queer thing anymore. Raincoats, that’s what they all wear now. Fucking Burberrys. Hate the damn things. You can’t kiss under a fucking Burberry in the rain, can you? Take a walk wearing one, and you want to sneak a quick grope, you get an armful of wet cloth. They make people look like Maxwell Smart. Not sexy at all.
Been through three umbrellas since you left. Blew away, blew inside out. Cheap crap, don’t believe in spending more on the things anymore. Leave them in the hallway, anyone can take them if they want. Marks do them for fifteen quid. Be nice to your local car salesman, they give them away. Won’t make the mistake again of spending a lot on something that’s going to disappear. Never gave my password to another fuck either. It bothered me, those emails being wiped. Like you were trying to change our history, pretend we hadn’t had anything together. Should have got that tattoo I was joking about. Then there’d be some trace of your existence.
But maybe that’d be a bad idea. It’s better this way. Easier to forget about it, write it off as an expensive mistake, two years of my life I won’t get back again, and move on. If I had a tattoo, I’d be picking at it, thinking. Hardly ever think about you at all these days. ‘Cept when it rains in the park.
The park’s the only habit I kept, but it was mine before you and it was all I had left when you did. Don’t go to the pub we liked – they closed it anyway, turned it into apartments on the river. Changed jobs, so I don’t go for lunch at that little place we used to eat in. But the flat overlooks the park and I paid for that view, so why the hell shouldn’t I go walking there? People think it rains here all the time, but it doesn’t. It’s only when it rains that I mind it much. Walking past the café in the park, couples huddling in the slightly grotty tearoom, windows fogging up as they wait out the cold showers. I miss the cakes they make there. You can get takeaway, but it’s not the same, sitting on a bench eating the damn thing. Half the fun was seeing how many cups of tea we could squeeze out of the pot, stealing the icing off your slice, making bitchy comments about the dog owners and child minders and the dutiful children of senile parents, taking them out for a change and a rest. Then out in the open again, away from everyone, down by the boating lake, watching the coots bully the moorhens, and counting all the gay mallards.
There are more homosexual drakes than ever, down there. Saw an old bastard on the High Street a couple of weeks ago, spouting on about homosexuality being unnatural. ‘What about the ducks?’ I asked him. He blinked at me. ‘The ducks in the park are all poofters. They’re natural.’
He pretended I wasn’t there. Inconvenient facts getting in the way of his bigotry, I guess. You’d have had a proper argument with him. Quoted all the bits in the Bible, and backed it up with historical example. I can’t remember things like that, when I need them. Best I can come up with is gay ducks.
Shit. It’s raining. Where the fuck did that come from? I’m out in the open, just in a coat. I start to walk faster, heading for the café. The clouds are really tipping it down now, and it’s bloody cold. I start to run, head down, trying not to slip on the leaves all over the path. Hard to see where I’m going, with it coming down this hard. Fuck it.
But it stops. Just like that. Two seconds later, the sun comes out, has a look, says ‘bugger that’, and goes behind a cloud again. I shake off the water, curse, wipe my eyes. I’m soaked. I may as well just go….
There. Walking towards me. Head down behind a sensible umbrella. Persian turquoise, the label had called it.
Poofy, you’d said.
I wait, dripping. Don’t mind the wet, for a few seconds more. After all these years, I can wait a little longer to see what’s under the brolly.