The Call of Frivolity

Why is jumping in rain puddles so fun?

*  *  26  *  *

It was raining.

Again.

Audra was sick of the rain.

However sick she was of the rain, though, she was more sick of being stuck inside. She wanted desperately to go outside and play. Her bike sat unused in the garage. The trampoline in the backyard beckoned to her. The playground just across the street was as unreachable as a castle guarded by a water-spewing dragon.

She was starting to wish the dragon spewed fire.

“Audra, get your jacket and boots,” her mom called as though bearing a message from the heavens. “We need to run to the store.”

Audra’s heart leapt. With tears of joy in her eyes, she ran to her room, threw on her bright green rain boots and purple jacket and returned, knowing only a hint of the promises the journey ahead held in store. She knew the most important promise, however: she was no longer stuck inside the house. What was more was that the store was close enough to their house that a little bit of rain wasn’t going to convince Audra’s mother that it was worth the greenhouse gas production to drive to the store.

They were going for a walk.

As the two began their trek to the store, Audra tried her best to contain her glee. As per usual, her mother insisted that they hold hands so that Audra was less tempted to wander off. Audra, however, insisted on simply dragging her mom wherever her heart decided she should wander. Usually, it was a fairly easy pull. She had a rather accepting and free-spirited mom who was willing to indulge her little adventures. Today, however, there was business at hand, and Audra had to pull extra hard to divert her mother from the path.

As if a little extra work had ever stopped her. She simply pulled all the more fervently, leaving her mom little choice but to obey the call of frivolity. Or on the case of this particular day, the call of the giant puddle in the middle of the park.

In reality, the puddle could not have been more than a couple feet across. But to Audra, after being stuck inside begging to play in the rain, it may as well have been an ocean.

And she wanted to be a part of that world.

When they reached the edge of the puddle, Audra stopped and looked toward her mom for approval. There was a moment of contemplation as all the options were weighed. Finally, as the reality of the situation soaked through, a grin crossed her mother’s face, followed by a nod.

They both closed their eyes . . .

And jumped.

Audra expected the splash that followed, but she had felt confident that it was supposed to be followed by solid ground. That’s how puddles were supposed to work. Today, however, the solid ground never seemed to appear.

As she opened her eyes, the truth of the situation became apparent. The park was gone. The trees had been replaced by coral reefs; the playground had been replaced by a shipwreck; and, perhaps most shockingly, her mother had been replaced by a mermaid doppelganger. Audra looked down at her own legs to find that they, too, had been replaced by a long, purple tail. She flicked it around to test its movement and was overjoyed at the results as she went flying through the water toward the nearest reef.

A quick tug from her mom’s hand snapped her back.

She turned to see her standing in the middle of the puddle, unmoving.

Audra looked back to find at the coral reefs and shipwreck only to find that they had returned to their previous state as trees and playground equipment. She was, after a moment of contemplation, more than a little disappointed. She had really been looking forward to seeing what secrets that new world held.

But as they returned to their previous journey to the store, Audra took comfort in the fact that, just for a moment, she had seen something more.

She had been something more.

And that was enough.

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