They call it petrichor – the smell of earth that emanates as soon as the first raindrops fall.
I’ve always loved that smell. It brought so many childhood memories of kicking a muddy ball around puddles of water, of laughter, and friendship. It conjured the aromatic smell of freshly brewed coffee, and that decadent scent of fresh-from-the-oven cookies. And when you came along, it brought that vivid memory of my last moment with you, the boy with the red umbrella.
The truth is, you annoyed the hell out of me in the beginning. I remember that I likened you to an insect that crawled under the skin – just seemingly impossible to get rid of. You were just everywhere – in hallways on my way to class, outside my classroom regaling people with tales of the previous night, at the café I frequented to get my coffee. And then your uncanny ability to annoy me escalated when you began popping in my classes, inviting yourself to dinners with friends, and hanging out where I always stayed to read a book or just sit.
Then there was that cold, rainy, February night. I was stuck, watching the heavy rain. And of course, you were there again, shaking your head at me because I didn’t have an umbrella, because apparently I should have known it was going to rain. And so you handed me your red umbrella. You smiled at me, and before I could say thank you, you ran under the pouring rain.
That night, I was awake, shocked at the realization that I had not only tolerated your being all over the place—I had become accustomed to it. You were exactly like the insect I had likened you to. Except that instead of crawling under my skin, you’ve crawled your way into my heart.
But of course, it was time for you to leave. And as I stood that rainy night, right in front of you, as you gave your little speech, I reached into my bag and handed you your red umbrella.
I remember that you smiled at me, and wiped away the tears that I didn’t even know were already streaming down my face.
You told me that people always remember that moment when they say goodbye. That you would never forget me crying at our last moment together. But that you’ll always remember my smiles more than my tears.
You took my hand in yours, and told me to keep your red umbrella.
“Think of me when it rains,” you said, hugging me one last time.
With that, you turned and left.
That was the last time I saw you.
To the boy with the red umbrella, it’s been years since we last spoke. I don’t know where you are, how you are, or if you still think of me like you promised. I write this in the hopes that you come across this, and know that to this day, there has not been a rainy day that I have not thought of you.