Suddenly she remembered she had an umbrella, a small compact one that she was forever losing. Fumbling her fruit from one arm to the other, she reached into the messenger bag resting at her right thigh and searched amongst wrinkled papers, fifty-cent paperbacks and inkless pens. At the bottom of the bag she rediscovered a necklace charm she'd thought she'd dropped on the subway the week before, but her umbrella was nowhere to be found. She couldn't quite recall if she'd grabbed it before she left home; when she was younger her mother had always taken care of it.
Again her mother. What would her mother do? Her mother certainly wouldn't have forgotten the umbrella in the first place, but supposing she had would her mother have bought another one? Money had not been especially tight in their house, so affordability would never have been an issue. But would her mother, her practical, pragmatic mother, have bought a new one, knowing she still had a perfectly good one at home? On the one hand, her mother was a champion against colds and the other chills that came from running about in the rain. However, her mother's sense of justice would allow that because she forgot the umbrella, she could walk in the rain without it as a punishment and simply risk the illness.
This was not a heavy torrent pouring down, either. It was heavier than drizzle, but not by much. It was more of a shower, really. She pondered this. She took showers at home all the time, right? She never got sick from those. Granted, they were hot and steamy and this was cold and clammy, but they were basically the same thing. Right? The station wasn't too far away, so she wouldn't be terribly soaked, only a little wet – enough to feel damp from head to toe, but she wouldn't be able to wring the moisture from the cloth.
People didn't get sick from being just a little damp, right?
One time, back in junior high, she'd left her umbrella in her locker at school. She'd been halfway home, splashing in puddles and talking to her friends about the cute boy she was pretty sure had winked at her in biology, when suddenly she stopped, mud and water soaking her shoes and seeping into her socks, and remembered. That day had been like today, with raindrops falling in regular pit-pat upon her uncovered head and uniform. Her hair had limply stuck to her face, and she might have resembled a boy if she hadn't been wearing a skirt and pink lip-gloss, with candy raver beaded bracelets, six to a wrist, on each arm. She'd turned around, alone, to return to the school, and her friends went on to afternoon gossip and warm living rooms. Upon arriving she found that the school was already locked up, and everyone had gone home for the evening. Only then did she look up and realize she'd been running in the rain for hours, splashing in puddles, and the sun had inched from the middle of the afternoon horizon to sitting upon it. She again forgot the umbrella and ran home, no longer noticing the puddles she splashed through and the droplets of water that clung to her eyelashes, her bangs, her shoulders, her backpack that banged against her backside because she wore it low, like the cool kids.
When she'd gotten home, her mother had scolded the dripping pathetic creature that stood before her, without the umbrella, wet and forming a puddle of muddy water as she stood in the hallway, head down, listening to her mother's voice as she was admonished for being forgetful and reminded of the dangers of being out late. How she'd wished she had the umbrella then, so she could open it up and put it over her head, and maybe her mother's words would bounce off like the raindrops did. But she had no umbrella, so she stood there like a statue and listened, sometimes lifting her head slightly and dropping it again to feign attention. When her mother ran out of breath she'd sent the daughter up to her room to do homework, and the girl didn't think to change out of her wet clothing until it was nearly dry again.
Had she gotten sick that time? She couldn't remember now, years later. She'd rarely been sick as a teenager, so she doubted it. But still a little voice inside of her, probably her transported mother, nagged her to go back into the store and buy an umbrella, a brightly-colored umbrella, just to be safe. She wouldn't forget it if the colors were bright, right?
She looked down and saw a yellow umbrella hanging at her wrist, forgotten and half-hidden by the bag of pears. She laughed, a light tinkling bell that rang clearly, opened the umbrella, and started walking home.