I’m the sort of person who believes that if I were to step out of the house without an umbrella, it will rain. And if I slip one into my back-pack, it won’t. When I first told Saffy this, she said it was the stupidest thing she’d ever heard in her entire life. “And I’ve heard a lot,” she said to me severely. Even her legendary bosom seemed to vibrate with disapproval.
But I don’t care. I know what I know, and it’s true.
A couple of weeks ago, I was walking home from the bus-stop. Well, I was trotting more than I was walking because the sky above me had turned a very nasty bruised purple. The kind of colour you associate with people who’ve been in a very bad street fight and are in desperate need of some stitches.
Of course, I hadn’t brought my umbrella.
“Do you think it’s going to rain?” I’d asked that morning as I was leaving the apartment for a meeting.
Amanda looked up from her latest issue of Vogue and stared out the window. “Are you mad?” she said eventually. “It’s clear blue skies and boiling hot! Why would it ever rain?”
So, I told her about my Law of Umbrellas to which the second best student in Harvard Law School’s Class of 19-something said it was the second stupidest thing she’d ever heard in her life.
In spite of myself, I asked what the first was.
“Oh God,” Amanda sighed, putting down Vogue. “It was when I first met Saffy and she told me that she was sure her breasts were intelligent life forms and had emotions!”
It says something that I was barely moved. “Uh-huh. So, you think I shouldn’t bring an umbrella?”
“Not unless you want to look like a complete dork walking around the bright sunshine with a completely dry umbrella.”
Later that afternoon, I thought of Amanda’s parting shot as the sky practically split open with a sharp, painful crack. Two seconds later, the first fat drops of rain hit the pavement. I swear I could hear the sizzle. Another three seconds later and I was practically pushed to the ground by a thick flat slap of rain. I could barely see. And there was no point rushing to the nearest shelter. I was soaked to the skin.
I squelched into the apartment like an irritated jellyfish. Saffy turned from the window, took one look at me and put her hand to her mouth and gasped. “Oh my God! Did you get caught out there? Why didn’t you bring an umbrella? You always bring an umbrella!”
I rolled my eyes. “Amanda told me not to! And so, it rained!”
“Well, hurry up and change out of those clothes and come sit with me and watch this storm.”
So here’s the thing about Saffy and me. We love watching it rain. She thinks it’s a primal thing. Something about feeling safe indoors while outside, heaven rages and bawls a huge tantrum. The trees are washed clean of dust and the air is cooled with a moist caress. The world feels clean.
We particularly love the smell of rain as it wafts on soft wind currents. “Petrichor, it’s called,” I said during one of our first storm viewings together. “That’s what you call the smell of rain after hot weather. Karl told me.”
Saffy rolled the word silently in her mouth. Petrichor. Such a lovely word, she decided.
So, soon as I had changed into dry clothes, I pulled up a chair by Saffy’s side. The storm was driving the other way. This meant only a very fine cool mist drifted in through the open window. We watched the jacaranda tree outside sway gently as its branches hula hooped in slow motion.
“Oooh,” Saffy sighed. “This is so lovely!”
“Out for tea. I hope she brought an umbrella because she ain’t gonna find a taxi in this rain.”
I perked up. “Remember that time she was out without an umbrella and it suddenly started storming and she had to wrap plastic bags over her Louboutins?”
“That’ll teach her to spend a thousand dollars on a pair of sh…oooh! Look at that!” Saffy pointed to a jagged flash of lightning.
“We’re so evil,” I said over the very satisfying clap of thunder.
“It’s so weird,” Saffy told me. “But I didn’t always like the rain. But now I love it!”
“We’re getting old.”
“We’re getting old.”
“My God, tell it. My knees!”
When Amanda finally walked in the front door, soaked to the skin and in the foulest temper, Saffy and I were still seated by the window cackling at each other.