Caught in the Rain

The day was hot, very hot. Riley walked home from the store slowly. He dangled the plastic-wrapped loaf of bread from his left hand to balance himself as he walked along the curb. Suddenly he felt tiny drops of water fall on his head. He threw his head back and looked up, then shut his eyes and grinned.

The rain felt cool and welcome. Quickly Riley sat down on the grass and took off his shoes and socks. He stuffed his socks into his shoes and carried them in his right hand. Then he walked in the puddles that were rapidly gathering on the sidewalk. He ran back and forth, splashing and laughing. He squished his toes in the soft tar separating the concrete gutter slabs and laughed again.

“You’re really going to get it from your grandmother, Riley Thompson!” Brenda shouted from her porch railing.

Riley looked up and waved his tennis shoes at her. “My grandma won’t care,” he replied.

“She won’t like your playing in the rain!” Brenda insisted.

Riley splashed through the puddles right up to Brenda’s front porch and asked, “Why won’t she like my playing in the rain? Rain doesn’t hurt you.” His hair hung in limp strands.

“It does so! You can catch a cold and get sick and die!” Brenda retorted as she held out a hand and caught some raindrops.

Riley stared at the trickling drainpipe at the side of Brenda’s house. “My grandma says viruses give you colds.”

“Viruses give you the flu,” Brenda informed him smugly. “Rain makes you sick.”

You’re making me sick, Brenda Midler,” Riley said. “Plus you’re making me late from the store!” Riley stuck his toes under Brenda’s rainspout, then turned his back on her and headed toward home again. As he neared the edge of her yard, he heard her call.

“Don’t expect me to visit you in the hospital!”

Riley scowled and clumped along the sidewalk, watching the water splash around his feet. His hair hung limply in his face, and his shirt clung tightly to his back. What if Brenda is right? he thought. He stopped beneath a tree and looked at his wet clothes. “Oh, what does she know!” he grumbled. He shrugged and headed back into the rain. “My skin is waterproof.”

When he neared home, Riley began to worry. Did Grandma want this bread right away? He looked up at his bedroom window on the second floor. Will she make me stay in my room the rest of the day? He swallowed hard and followed the walk around to the back of the house. Then he hurried up onto the back porch.

“Grandma!” he called with his nose pressed against the screen door. “I’m home from the store, but I got caught in the rain.” He looked down at the porch and watched the puddles gather around his feet.

Grandma came to the door and looked down at him, smiling. In her hand she had a towel. “You certainly did,” she said with a chuckle. “I saw you playing in the puddles.” She opened the door and laid down an old rug for him to drip on. “Did you have a good time?” she asked as she took the bread and put it away.

“Will you be cross with me if I did?” Riley asked. “Or if I didn’t?”

Grandma threw back her head and laughed. “I wouldn’t be cross with you either way, honey,” she said. “Why would you think that?”

“Brenda Midler said you would. She said I’d catch a cold and get sick and die.”

Grandma chuckled again. “I’m not cross. And you’re not going to get a cold and get sick and die either. It’s a nice, warm day. Heavenly Father sends rain to make the plants and grass and trees grow. He sends it to fill the lakes and rivers and streams, so people have water to drink and use,” Grandma said.

“Animals too!” Riley added.

“Yes, animals, too,” Grandma agreed. “If Heavenly Father didn’t send rain, nothing would grow.”

“Then why do some people moan when it rains?” Riley asked.

Grandma looked out at the rain and thought for a few seconds. “Maybe they don’t want the rain because it upsets their plans. They forget that rain is part of Heavenly Father’s plan for all growing things. Even plants know that,” she said.

“How can you tell?” Riley asked.

“Look at the zinnias, Riley,” she said.

Riley looked to where she pointed, and he smiled. “They’re not drooping anymore!”

“That’s right,” Grandma said. “They’re lifting their heads and spreading their leaves.”

“They look happy, Grandma, like they’re glad it’s raining.”

“I think they are, dear. They were very hot and dry before.”

“I was, too,” Riley said with a grin. “Could I put my swimming trunks on and go out and play in the rain some more? The rain’s nice and cool, and I can put my sailboat in the puddles and build a dam by the drainpipe,” Riley said excitedly.

“Sounds like fun,” Grandma said. “In fact, if I weren’t baking, I’d be tempted to join you.”

“You would?” Riley asked in disbelief.

“I certainly would,” she insisted. “When I was a little girl, I used to like to play in the rain too.”

“Oh, boy!” Riley shouted. “Wait till I tell Brenda Midler!”

[illustrations] Illustrated by Julie F. Young