“Lizzie, don’t forget your lunch!” Mom shouted from the doorway.
It was one of those school mornings where all the kids would grumble about the weather.
“I don’t like wearing rain boots!”
“My socks are wet!”
“I hate inside recess!”
Not me. I loved the rain so much, I didn’t even want an umbrella! Of course, Mom made me take one. I grabbed it with my lunch. Mom always put my lunch in a paper sack with the name “Lizzie” written in cursive. The “I” was dotted with a heart. It was so pretty, I felt bad stuffing the lunch sack in my backpack.
I ate the same thing every day: a crunchy peanut butter sandwich with an apple and crackers.
Mom says I should add jelly to the peanut butter sandwich, but I like it just fine. She always smiles and says “That’s because you’re nutty.”
And maybe I am a little nutty. Why else would I be the only girl in Bloomington Elementary’s fourth grade class that doesn’t mind the rain?
You’d think we were desert creatures, the way we hated water like that. Some girls even get upset about their hair. They say “it’s ruined!”
“Well, it’s still on your head, isn’t it?”
I don’t mind the rain one bit, and on my walks to school, I splash in every puddle I can. It’s like a game. If I miss one, I have to go back and double-splash it for good measure.
My bright yellow rain boots are perfect for the game. I got them from Mom and Dad on my birthday. It makes sense because my birthday is in April, and you know what they say about April and showers.
That’s why I love days like today. It’s enough rain to feel like kisses on your skin, but not so much you think you’re going to drown or be electrocuted by a wild lightning bolt.
My neighbor, Mr. Gunders, was electrocuted once. He always talks about it.
“It was a dang fool thing to go fishin’ durin’ a storm,” he says. “All I caught was 300 million volts of electricity. It’s the Lord’s blessin’ I didn’t have my plate then.”
I guess Mr. Gunders has some metal plate supporting his leg. Doctors gave it to him after he fell off the roof trying to hang Christmas lights. I swear, Mr. Gunders has been in more accidents than I have curls in my hair.
He likes to tell all these stories on his front porch rocking chair while chomping on sunflower seeds. Sometimes they get stuck in his big, white beard, but I never say anything. I like to imagine he won’t notice, and they’ll grow and bloom into actual sunflowers.
But he must notice eventually because that’s never happened.
Anyway, today is not a lightning day. Today is the perfect rain day.
I was dancing and singing about raindrops on my head, waving my umbrella around. Hopping from one puddle to the next, I could smell the sweetness of peanut butter from my backpack. I love it so much, I put it on everything: sandwiches, pancakes, celery, toast. Well maybe that’s it, but that’s a lot!
I was trying to think of other things when I ran into something sturdy and fell back on the sidewalk. My umbrella clattered on the concrete. I picked it up and held it over my shoulder. As I stood, I noticed what I ran into. It was a boy.
He looked my age, and was holding an umbrella too.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“I’m alright. Sorry about that.” I glanced down to my boots. It was kind of embarrassing.
“That’s okay,” he said. I could hear his head shifting side to side, as if he were confused. “Um, do you go to Bloomington Elementary?”
I looked back up. “Yeah, I’m in the fourth grade there. Are you new?”
He nodded. “How do you get there?”
He turned to face me and our umbrellas bumped together, forming a small covering.
“My name is Zack,” he added.
He smiled like he was proud to have introduced himself. That’s when I noticed the jar of Skippy peanut butter in his hand.
“I love peanut butter,” I said.
“Me too,” he laughed.
I smiled and said “That’s because you’re nutty.”
This story is inspired by an actual event. One day, it was raining as I walked to work. I passed a couple facing each other on the sidewalk. Their umbrellas were touching, and the young man was smiling with a jar of peanut butter in his hand. Of course, these were two adults standing in front of a Walgreen’s, so it’s a little different, but I thought the moment should be captured in some way.