Yellow Raincoats and First Loves

It is raining when I look up from my novel to see his face. The carpool line snakes around First Presbyterian and it will take too long to reach him if I wait. I really can’t wait, not after seeing his eyes, big and brown, blinking not against the raindrops but holding back a wall of tears I know will soon burst like a dam.

I pull into the parking lot, grab the huge bright yellow and pink flowered umbrella from the backseat and head for him, my eyes never leaving his face. I have never seen my little boy hurt like this.

He stands in the queue next to his stiff, stern kindergarten teacher, wearing his older brother’s hand-me-down, yellow Mackintosh. His sneakers squish in the deluge as he steps out to greet me, to take my hand in his.

I know not to stop, not to ask “What is wrong?” until we are a safe distance away from the others. But we are not quite to the parking lot when I see the convulsive jerk of his shoulders. Barely contained grief is leaking out around all the edges of his being.

I stop and kneel down beside him on the wet sidewalk. I am trying to both shelter and hide us with the oversized, Mary Poppins umbrella.

“Ben, what’s wrong?”

He looks at me, stricken, as tears well up and course down his sweet cheeks.

“It’s Dennifer,” he says in his quaint, gap-toothed lisp.

“Jennifer?” The first love of his life, the cute little blonde with the perpetual smile…the damned hussy! If she’s hurt my boy…I compose myself.

“Did something happen?” I ask.

He is sobbing now, his body wracked with silent, deep waves of grief that cut through his body, making sound impossible. For a long moment we are frozen as he tries, hiccups wails, tries again and finally speaks.

“Dennifer said she don’t want to be my gwirlfriend no more. She’s gwoing to…gwoing to…” He sobs, hiccups again, gasps for air. “She is gwoing to marry her cousin!”

I pull him into my arms and hold him close. The umbrella shelters us both from view now, hiding the two of us as we cry for broken hearts, the pain of first loves and brazen hussies who decide their cousins are better than sweet, little boys in yellow raincoats.

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