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So It's Raining

By Rebecca L. Monroe
Published in ART TIMES September 2014

Scotty dropped his dump truck, staring around at the floor that was littered with other toys. “Mommy, I’m bored.”

Mary sighed inwardly because she’d known it was coming. She thought of her own list of things to do, a similar list to last Saturday and the Saturdays before, and wished she were bored too. “Do you want to play cards again?”

Scotty shook his head, brown eyes dark as he scowled at the water-streaked window. His body still held a bit of toddler chubbiness but his expression was one of a judge who had just heard a displeasing argument. “When is it going to stop raining?”

“I don’t know, honey.” She had to vacuum yet, had to get a load of laundry in and start the dishwasher. Sometime today, she also needed to make cookies for Scotty’s first grade class on Monday.

“Can I help you?”

It would distract him for a little while. “Sure. Do you want to pick up your toys or dust?”

“Dust.”

She got Scotty the package of pre-treated cloths. Something tugged at her heart as she watched him fumble a cloth from the package. Maybe she would rent him a movie this evening.

Scotty began to wipe the coffee table. “Why can’t people play in the rain?”

“You’d get wet, silly.” Mary raised her voice as she went into the laundry room.

Scotty followed her. “You get wet taking a bath.”

“That’s a warm wet.”

“You get wet swimming.”

“You don’t have a bunch of clothes on and the weather is warm,”

“Oh.” He turned and left.

Mary sorted laundry...whites, colors, jeans, really dirty jeans, while she replayed the conversation. Where had she gotten the idea being out in the rain was bad? From her own mother, of course; which was closely linked with muddy feet and soaked clothes. She smiled slightly, remembering the time when she was ten or eleven, walking in the rain, hair a wet cap, tilting her face up to feel the dots of the sky. It had been a wonderful walk; the rhythm of the rain a soothing escape from the over-heated house. She dumped a load of jeans into the washer and started it. Then she went back to the living room. Scotty was staring out the window once more, dust cloth resting against the glass leaving a foggy mark.

“What are you thinking about, Scotty?”

“Cowboys and Indians didn’t care if it was wet,”

Mary began picking up Scotty’s toys. He’d played quietly by himself all morning but lunch had broken the spell. Now it was what she always called the dead of the afternoon – two o’ clock on a gray day was the most depressing time. It was too late for new, too early for night. The thought of the rest of the day spent cleaning the house was suddenly nauseating. Scotty had gone back to dusting, making the cloth take sharp, sliding corners around the lamp, backing up and racing forward.

Mud and water. If she’d gotten a cold from her walk, she’d forgotten about it. How did she want Scotty to remember this day? She carried his toys to his room and picked up the plastic holster and gun that were on his floor. Then she went to the hall closet and got his raincoat and cowboy boots. She carried them to the living room.

“Get these on, Partner,”

Scotty dropped the dust cloth.

Mary could see his mind work. Holster, yes. Boots, yes. Raincoat. “It’s still raining,” it had lost its appeal. Outside alone was just as boring as inside alone.

“Well, you were right when you said real cowboys don’t care about rain,” she went back to his room, suddenly eager to be free of the smell of furniture polish and laundry soap. She heard Scotty pulling on his coat even as she scooped up the feather headband. He would go outside because he’d asked, not because he wanted to. Unless…“Can I be the Indian,” she came back to the living room, cramming the small headband on.

The instant grin went straight to her heart. “You bet!”

“Later we’ll stop at the saloon and rustle us up some hot chocolate,” she got her coat and followed Scotty outside. He wasted no time – coat half off one shoulder as he pulled the door open while trying to buckle his holster.

It was cold and wet out; a steady autumn rain that penetrated; dripped off leaves in slow thick lumps, hung in the very air. Scotty ran ahead of her, plastic gun flapping at his hip. The wet soaked through her clothes, her hair but the air was like a shot of energy and she laughed when Scotty suddenly disappeared behind a tree.

Oops! She was an Indian, out in the open, exposed to…

“BANG! You’re dead!” Scotty bounded out, gun drawn.

Mary hesitated as she gripped the obvious wound in her stomach. Mud, wet grass…a small thing released inside. Groaning, she fell to the ground.

Scotty squealed with delight. She heard his running feet as she kept her eyes shut, rain pattering on her lids and face; the sound of sliding and the bump of Scotty against her. “You’re okay now, Mommy. You’ve got to shoot me,”

Mary opened her eyes, joy swelling at the face hovering above her own. She scowled fiercely. “You in heap big trouble!”

Laughing, Scotty danced away.

(Rebecca L. Monroe, a frequent contributor, lives in Troy, MT.)