I wish I owned an umbrella - one that keeps me safe and dry. I might even give it a name - Engelbert or Alfred or something similarly warm, absurd and reassuring. It wouldn’t matter too much I suppose - as long as it did its job.
I wouldn’t use it all the time - just when clouds brew. When the sun shines, I’d leave it at home, safe in its corner by a shelf. Even as summer bleeds into autumn, if the day holds promise and the sky blue enough, it could remain there propped resolute and proud. Ready for use but no offence taken when deemed unnecessary - a resilient umbrella, it would be.
There would always be days when I need it. When the rain beats down hard and ceaseless, or when the clouds themselves press you down and in, oppressive drudgery, watery slush.
Any tool, umbrella or otherwise, can’t fully protect you from those moments. You’ll still feel the wet and the grey. Puddles as you walk, mud up legs, wet socks, breath short. But you don’t succumb to the rain. It slows you down, dampens your morning - but it does not stop you.
I can’t predict the clouds. They come and go. Sometimes from a distinct source - a long-simmering storm numbs the base of your skull, a quick and violent hurricane assault.
Other times, they are more subtle, gliding in stealthily overnight. They settle on your chest mockingly, push you down when you try to get up.
This is when I could use an ultra high-tech umbrella, radiating light and heat, burning the clouds to a higher form of vapour and becoming a beacon to all those similarly afflicted.
“Back, you devils!” I would cry, brandishing my trusty weapon skywards as it emanated blades of flame. Afeared and scornful and robbed of their grey, the clouds wisp off, never to return.
I’d sell such umbrellas by the bucketload but I don’t know where I’d find them.
Maybe the best you can hope for is a sturdy and colourful umbrella. One that protects you from daily bombardment. It won’t insulate you or eliminate the elements, the pure cold facts of rain, sleet, snow and sludge. But it keeps the worst off.
Then, on a morning, it may dawn on you that the storm has passed. You can leave your umbrella in its resting place - it is content to have been of service. And you are lightened by its absence, no longer clutching its handle as you go outside and taste the air - the sun and the light, a glow on your skin and a quiet thrill in being alive.
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