The Point of Pink Umbrellas

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic


“Do you think anyone has ever died from a cup of tea?” You hold the cup softly in your hands, staring down into the deep, brown liquid.

“People have died from everything, I’m sure there’s someone that’s choked from it accidentally.”

You glance up towards your brother sitting in the armchair.

“Poison has probably been hidden in tea too,” he was continuing. “And maybe if someone has been hit over the head with a mug of tea that would count, it would burn at least.”

“You always think of such creative ways of dying,” you say nonchalantly.

He shrugs. “I’m a creative spirit.”

Your brother was, in fact, the least creative spirit you knew. Very straight and to the point, the solutions he thought up were always based around facts and logic. Even when he didn’t know the answer, he always said something plausible.

“I think about dying.” You sip the tea and lean back into the pillows on the couch, rearranging your skirt around your knees.  

“Don’t say that.”

“It’s true!” Indignation roars up into you like it always does. You know you’re dying, and having others deny it only makes you feel weak.  

“I know it’s true,” he says softly. He waits until you look at him to speak again. “I know you’re going to die one day, and it might not be far away.”

His eyes break into yours and there are no tears in his, or sadness in his voice. It’s a fact. You both know it.

“What do you think it’s like?” You ask.

“I don’t know.”

“You always know everything.” It was unfair to expect him to know what dying was like, but you want an answer from him, even if it isn’t true.

He doesn’t reply, so you speak again.

“Do you think I’ll see you there? Not at first, not for many years, but will we see each other again one day?”

There’s a pause that sits in the air, you can feel the answer forming on his lips.

“We will.”

Shooting him a soft smile, you lie back down and close your eyes. He would be there with you one day, you knew it.

 

There’s a tree that sits outside your window, short and stubby, with pink flowers. Some days you reach out and pick a flower, but as soon as it breaks from the branch it crumbles away, the petals unable to hold together without it’s support. With each flower you take the tree loses its beauty, but just once you want to get a flower that does not break. If you’re careful, you can hold it in your cupped hands, letting it rest there altogether before the petals start to slip apart. The flowers can only survive while they are held together. Alone, unsupported, they are broken.

 

“It’s raining.” You slip on your boots and push your toes down to the end.

“Are you bringing an umbrella?” Your brother swings his around, threateningly close to the picture frame hanging on the wall.

Looking at the shoe rack, you see only shoes and an odd sock.

“Can we share?”

He shakes his head exasperatingly. “You should just buy one for yourself.”

“What’s the point?”

He stops swinging the umbrella and it slows to a gentle halt, dangling from his hand.

“If you want an umbrella, we’ll buy you one on our way now.”

You know he hates it when you talk as if you don’t need anything.

“I don’t want one. I’ll share yours.”

“And next time it rains?” He glares at you with determination.

Pushing yourself off the chair you look right into his eyes with the same strength.

“Who knows if there’ll be a next time.”

Opening the front door you step out into the light rain and look back at him.

“Are you coming, or am I going to get wet?”

Reluctantly he follows you and pushes the umbrella up over both of your heads.

Linking your arm in his, you both begin to walk down the driveway and onto the path. The rain is light, but the wind pushes against you. You can feel it driving through your jacket. Everything seems colder these days.

“You know you still deserve things.” His face is pushed into the neck of his jumper and his voice comes out slightly muffled.

“I know that.”

“It’s not pointless even if you only use it once.”

“I know.”

For a little while the gush of the wind and the rain splattering against the umbrella fills the silence.

“You know why I really want you to buy am umbrella don’t you?” He says finally.

“So I have one?” You guess.

He laughs. “Of course not. This umbrella is falling apart, and if you die, I get yours.”

You smile and nudge him playfully, pushing him for one moment out of the umbrellas safety and into the rain. He draws himself back in, pulling your body closer to him on his arm.

“Do you think there’s rain after you die?”

He pulls you in tighter. “If there is I’m sure they’ll have umbrellas.”

“They’ll have to, I won’t be able to share yours.” For a moment you feel the grasp of your brother on your arm, the warmth of his body close to yours and a shimmer of sadness touches your heart. “I’ll you miss you when I die.”

“I’ll miss you too,” he says quietly. Then you hear a slightly forced laugh come from him. “But you’ll probably miss my umbrella more.”

“Alright,” you say. “Let’s go get one, but it has to bright pink so I don’t lose it.”

 

There’s someone talking loudly in the hallway of the hospital. With the pauses and the one-sidedness of the conversation, you can tell they’re talking on their phone. Someone is going to need to feed the dog- the key is under the plant out the back- don’t let them eat all of it.

You only listen so it distracts you, but after awhile you get annoyed. It shouldn’t take that long to tell someone how to feed a dog. You’re only annoyed because you’re here, in the hospital, again. You hate coming here, like most people do, but the silent sufferer in you makes you pretend you don’t mind.

Sometimes you dream about leaving, walking out of the hospital and into the street where the sun will be streaming warmth into your bones as if there is nothing else in the world. You need more than warmth though. Even a flower can’t survive on sunlight alone.  

 

You hate the beach. The sand, the taste of salt on your lips, the never-ending flock of seagulls that crowd around waiting for one slip of your hand. It’s all a picture that makes you want to shake your head. You hate the horizon most though. It is more never-ending than the seagulls; the water stretching further than you know, a free expanse that just keeps continuing. It’s just water, yet it holds freedom in its grasp.

“Here.” Your brother swings himself over the edge and thrusts an ice-cream into your hand.

“Thanks,” you say, eyeing a warning to the nearest seagull.

Across the sand, the waves roll slowly onto the shore, only the slightest breeze rippling over them.

“Why do people always go to the beach before they die?”

Your brother looks at you confusingly. “Do they?”

“In movies at least. They always sneak out of the hospital because they want to feel one last moment of pure freedom, and for some reason that’s at the beach.” You lick the ice-cream, already beginning to feel it melting down your fingers.

“Well why did you come to the beach today?”

“Because you told me you’d buy me an ice-cream if I came.” It was, in the simplest form, a fact. He had asked if you wanted to come and said he would buy you an ice-cream if you did.

“If you told me you just wanted an ice-cream we could’ve gone to the shops.”

“Beach ice-cream is different.”

He laughs and leans over to lick your ice-cream.

“Yep, tastes like sand.”

As you lick the ice-cream, you know you haven’t told the whole truth. If someone else had offered you a trip to the beach for an ice-cream you would have refused, but you can feel the days with your brother disappearing. If he asked you to go to the rubbish tip you would say yes.

“I’m going to die soon.” You say it simply, matter-of-factly.

He continues to eat his ice-cream, letting the words dangle in the air.

“I know.” His words come like a sigh when he finally speaks.

“Do you think it will be lonely?”

He grabs your hand. “After you die? No.” He’s small sigh of a voice turns into determination.

“Why not?” The expanse of the horizon keeps going, reaching out and out as the water trails with it.

“It just won’t be.”

 At the end, where your eyes can no longer tell the difference between ocean and sky, the water falls away, continuing down into a hidden world.

“Will you be with me when I die?”

“Of course.”

“Promise me.”

In the distance, the waves pull back against the shore, drawing out with the tide as the water as it once again returns to a depth you do not know.  

Turning his head, his soft eyes smile at you.

“I promise.”

 

A pink umbrella lies on your laps. It sits there softly, as if shimmering with water, but you know the only rain now is coming from your eyes.

It had lain there on your bed when you had returned home from the hospital; a bright pink splodge that you could barely see between your tears. You had been sent home to die, and then you had been told you were going home to grieve.

Out in the hallway, the noise of your parents is soft, but constant. They had been preparing for the death of their daughter, turning the home into a world that would be ready to goodbye in. Now they were preparing for the funeral of their son. You wonder if they know why he did it.  

You lie back against the pillows, unable to think of anything to stop the thoughts slipping into your head.

You were meant to die first. Three days ago you had been told there was nothing left, and that home would be a more comfortable place for you to meet your end. Now the house feels empty, and even with the soft patter of footsteps moving around the house, you feel alone.

The umbrella tightens in your hand. You hadn’t realised you were grabbing it, your fist clenched around the handle.

He wouldn’t get your umbrella when you die. No one would now. It’s mundane, but you smile at the thought. It shouldn’t make you smile, nothing should make you smile now, but right now something pointless somehow brings joy in great sadness. The umbrella will be useless, but his death isn’t. There was a point in that. He knew it, it was a fact.

Closing your eyes you see his face against your lids, and feel his arm tightly wrapped within yours. His hand holds yours, and his eyes smile at you with certainty.

Will you be with me when I die?

I promise.

And he was.


Submitted: September 18, 2022

© Copyright 2022 Archia. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Suzanne Mays

Thank you for this story, Archia. It makes me cherish my brother, and glad we can talk on the phone. I wish you every good thing in writing.

Sun, September 18th, 2022 11:54am

Author
Reply

Thank you so much for reading. Siblings are a wonderful thing to cherish

Sat, September 24th, 2022 12:20am

zilka.44

Sad but, somewhat comforting.

Mon, October 31st, 2022 8:32pm

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