I can’t play with Gracie today. ¬†Mommy says that all the aliens have to stay inside. I asked her why, and she said that they can’t touch the rain. ¬†I asked her why, and she said because. And I don’t know what that means, because because isn’t an answer.
They’ve only been here for seven months, and they’ve never had to go inside before. I thought Gracie would be out here celebrating with me, dancing in the rain like we normally do on a day when it doesn’t rain. ¬†I especially thought she’d be out here dancing today, because it’s the first time that its rained in a long time. I don’t know why the rain makes it different. ¬†Out on the street, there were people everywhere, dancing. They all had big smiles on their faces. It was cramped, and steamy, the rain making the road smoke a little. ¬†It was misty purple, of course, and it was starting to smell like melty sidewalk. Mommy stayed with her friends, laughing and twirling umbrellas.
¬®I’m going to go play, Mommy!¬® I yelled at her through the noisy rain. ¬†It was loud when it bounced off the rusty tin roofs. ¬®Over there!¬® I pointed to where the rest of the kids from the district were playing. ¬†She nodded to me with a smile, and twirled her blue umbrella.
I ran over to the front of the Marvins¬ī house, the one that always had the white hopscotch drawings on the sidewalk in front of it. ¬†There were a lot of kids there, screeching in joy and jumping on the squares. Someone was bouncing a ball.
¬®Hi Vinny!¬® Morgan said, waving her hand high above her head. ¬†¬®Come play with us!¬®
I walked over, nervously grabbing the bottom of my t-shirt and fiddling with it. ¬†¬®Hi Morgan!¬® I said. I tried to sound cheerful, but I felt guilty instead. ¬®Um,¬® I started, and the rest of the kids looked at me. ¬†¬®Have any of you seen Gracie?¬® Ron stopped hopscotching. ¬®I’ve looked everywhere, and I can’t find her.¬®
They were quiet for a minute, and I felt guilty again. ¬†Why weren’t they looking for her too? She always played hopscotch with us after school, and I felt bad because she was missing the rain. ¬†Where could she be?
Morgan laughed. ¬†¬®What do you mean, Vinny?¬® She said, confused. ¬†¬®All of the aliens are inside. They can’t come out in the rain!¬®
That was weird. ¬†I didn’t expect her to have the same answer as Mommy. ¬®But why?¬® I asked, unsatisfied with the same answer as before. ¬†¬®Gracie always plays with us. Why does she have to stay inside?¬®
This time, Ron laughed. ¬†He shuffled his foot over the white chalk hopscotch. ¬†¬®Because, Vinny. ¬†They’re aliens! ¬†They can‘t come outside today!¬® ¬†Sammy crossed their arms over the ball, stopping the bouncing sound.
¬®Come on Vinny, you always play with Gracie!¬® They said. ¬†¬®She’s an alien. Don’t forget who your real friends are.¬® ¬†
I cocked my head, and the guilty feeling came back again. ¬†What did he mean, real friends? Gracie was my real friend. ¬†Ever since she came here seven months ago and moved in next to me. ¬†She always played with me, and Sammy never did. I didn’t know why they were doing this. ¬†I needed to find Gracie.
I turned and ran back down the street, away from the Marvins¬ī and hopscotch. ¬†Toward Gracie’s house. Everyone said she was inside, so she must be at home. I ran on the steaming cement, dodging dancing people and yellow twirling umbrellas. ¬†Finally, I arrived at the tall flats that Gracie lived in. I stepped over the white chalk line that divided the ground between our two houses.
There were no people, anymore. ¬†It was too quiet, the sounds muffled. ¬†I could still see a few of them from around the corner, and I could still kind of hear them laughing and singing. ¬†There was hardly anyone on my street. I stepped back and back, trying to get a good look at her window. It was foggy, because of the rain, of course. ¬†
But I could see her. ¬†
She was sitting on the normal windowsill that we always sit on at her house. ¬†Her dark hand was holding her face, and she stared out the window, down at the street. ¬†She looked like she was sad. Her other hand was drawing shapes in the foggy window. I waved and waved at her, but she didn’t see me. I tried jumping, but the rain seemed to keep pushing me down. ¬†I felt guilty that she couldn’t play with us in the purple rain.
I walked up to the front steps of her flat, and noticed a bright purple sign taped to her door. ¬†The words were in bold black letters, with lots of exclamation points.
ATTENTION! ¬†ACID RAINFALL ON 77/2234. ¬†THIS HUMAN DISTRICT IS REQUIRED TO REMAIN INDOORS UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. ¬†
I sat on her steps until the rain stopped and Mommy made me step over the white chalk line again. ¬†