In the spirit of our ‘Summer Reads’ linky, here is something totally different! A bit of teen/tween fiction called ‘Waterproof’
“You’re not really going to wear that, Mum?” she said, eyes wide with disbelief. Or maybe it was horror? I hoped it wasn’t disgust but I couldn’t be certain. The wound was not intentional; that did not stop it from being deep.
I glanced down at my blue raincoat, draped over the sofa, and then looked back at my socks. I carefully continued to complete my double layers. They were buying me time to think.
“It’s raining. I don’t want to get wet.” I presented my facts and used them as a shield.
“I hate walking in the rain! Can’t you wear something decent? You know. Today! Meeting Jasmine’s Mum.”
But what was today for me? Nothing special; just another walk in the rain. Me in my raincoat and her in…
“What are you going to wear then?” I asked, “What is the recognised fashion item for inclement weather?” The irritation was a bit too immediate and I tried hard to hide it.
She sighed a big sigh and said “I’m going to straighten my hair. Can’t you put some make up on?” Long legs and heavy-feet stomped up the stairs. Now neither of us was happy.
As I made to follow her I caught sight of my reflection in the hall mirror. Curly, grey hair framing a frown. I touched the side of my head with the palm of my hand and stroked slowly downwards. The curls pulled straight and then bounced back. If only I could bounce back that easily.
I had spent at least ten minutes rummaging around in a cupboard for her raincoat. Now it was tossed carelessly on the hall floor. Her denim jacket was hung over the bannister. She was 12 years old and she’d become waterproof. And insulated, I thought, as I felt the thin denim between my fingers. Did she even intend taking an umbrella?
I lifted the jacket and held it against my cheek. I did the same with baby clothes and her old teddies. Grasping a moment in time and hauling it back, keeping it close. I wanted to keep the raincoat close too; I retrieved it from the floor and draped it next to the jacket. The past and the present in uneasy proximity. She had so wanted that raincoat; an exact replica of mine- a little smaller of course. She’d been desperate to have it. She wanted to be like me. The ultimate compliment preceding the ultimate rejection.
We used to run in puddles together. Wet curls bouncing in the rain. Piling back into this very hallway; giggling and dripping.
I still liked walking in the rain.
I still liked my hair.
I still liked my rain coat.
I still didn’t wear any make up.
Maybe today I should.
I was getting the feeling that Jasmine’s Mum wore make up. I bet she had more than one handbag. I, on the other hand, had less than one handbag. Mine was more of a ruck sack. I guess the pink one in the abandoned dressing up box didn’t count. Jasmine’s Mum, I felt certain, did not wear raincoats. Perhaps, she too, was waterproof.
I looked at my reflection again. When I could have been perfecting my make-up, I’d been constructing a spaceship from a cardboard box. When I could have been choosing shoes I’d been shivering in a muddy field watching my little girl play football. It was what she’d wanted. I thought. Sometimes I got things wrong. Perhaps this was one of those times.
Things didn’t look any better in my bedroom mirror as I searched in the drawers for an old mascara and eye liner. I had a feeling that there might even be a lipstick in there somewhere, if I was lucky. I found the eyeliner and the mascara and put them on. They helped to hide the red puffiness around my lashes. The lipstick was a gooey mess.
I remembered why.
I’d let her play with it. Just about everything in the house had been given a taste of ‘Coral Pink’. Her dolls, her teddies, even the dog if I remembered correctly. I decided to give the lipstick a miss.
I didn’t hear her coming in behind me but when I looked up her reflection appeared above my head. Hair bone straight and glossy. Sleek. She had lipstick on too. Deeper and redder than mine.
“You look nice, are you going to put on some lipstick?” she said.
I had to swallow hard before I spoke. She hadn’t even remembered. “No, something happened to it, I’ll go without.”
“OK, see you downstairs.”
“OK,” I whispered as she left the room. I looked down at the lipstick and wondered whether Jasmine’s dog wore ‘Coral Pink’. I felt my curls again, determined not to get upset. But I had to re-apply the mascara before I left the mirror.
Walking down the stairs I could see that the front door was wide open. Rain was splashing in and darkening the tiles and a cold draught was blowing into my hall. The denim jacket was still draped across the bannister.
Her rain coat had gone.
Then I saw her. Jumping around on the front lawn. Splashing in the puddles in her wellies; rain coat draped around her shoulders. Hood down. Soft dark, damp curls bouncing around her beautiful face. The dog splashed too and yelped with delight.
“Come on, Mum, get your coat on!” she called out, “You’re not waterproof are you?”
I took my coat from the stairs and dragged it over my shoulders.
The dog bounded in to fetch me and I caught the flash of bright red lipstick around his mouth.
“He prefers ‘Vibrant Scarlet” these days she spurted through snorts of laughter.
And I laughed as well.