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Hope And Nonsense
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Tara Fox Hall
"Garbage again," Malcom muttered disgruntedly as he walked tiredly toward the curb.
If only there hadn't been so many difficulties lately at his university. Adding on a long walk at the end of a tough day to carry stinky cans back to the garage was the glob of melting icing on the crumbling cake of his life.
Malcolm got to the curb and bent down to pick up the discarded lid.
He lifted it, then jumped back with a shout.
Under the lid, shining softly with many hues, was a rainbow. It hovered there, hugging the ground, a small thing of wonder and light.
Malcom whipped his head left and right suspiciously, but no one was around.
This wasn't a trick someone was playing.
A deep rumbling approached.
Malcom's heart sped up, wondering what he should do.
If he left the rainbow here, what would become of it?
Already it was moving away from the loud noise.
The car passed, the driver giving a friendly wave.
Malcom waved back, trying hard to appear normal while holding the can's lid firmly in place, as the rainbow began banging hard against the inside of the can, upset at being confined.
Malcom grabbed up the can and dashed for the garage.
When he was safetly inside, he lifted the lid.
In the bottom of the can, the rainbow hovered, shining faintly.
"Do you want to come out?"
Rain began to fall hard on the metal garage roof.
Cursing, Malcom ran to the curb, and gathered the remaining cans.
He made it back to the garage with them, soaked to the skin.
The rainbow was still there inside the can, shining faintly, the bit of mist at one end almost like a tiny cloud.
"Come out," he cajoled. "I won't hurt you."
The rainbow floated slowly up and out.
Putting aside the can, Malcolm lifted the rainbow and carried it inside his house.
Moments later, Malcolm watched his cats try to make sense of this new floating object. The dog had already tried to taste the rainbow and spat it out as if it were a pickle.
"Why are you here?" he said aloud.
Another cat poked at the rainbow and it moved nonchalantly away.
The cat retreated, eyes wide.
"Malcolm! I'm home!"
"In here, Wife-Unit."
Diana came in, holding a large bag of corn.
"Dinner is here. Want me to cookó?"
She let out a gasp and dropped the bag, her eyes on the rainbow. "What is that?"
"I found it in the garbage."
"You did not."
"Did, too. "
"What was it doing there?"
"How should I know?"
"You're the philosopher."
"Doesn't mean I know."
Diana sat down, her gaze locked on the rainbow. "What are you going to do with it?"
"You. It came to you for a reason."
"That's your job to find out. While you think about it, I'll make dinner."
Later that night, Malcom was still thinking about what to do.
Diana was alseep in bed beside him, their pets asleep in their beds. The rainbow was also nearby, hovering above the dresser, shining like a multi-hued nightlight.
"Why are you here? Why did you come to me?"
Though Malcom phrased his question many ways that long sleepless night, the rainbow never once answered.
The next morning when Malcom awoke, the rainbow had moved to the high window above their bed. It hovered above the windowsill, shining faintly.
He poked his wife. "Wake up, Diana. It's still here."
Diana blinked her eyes, then yawned. "I think you should set it free. It wants to go outside, or it wouldn't be by the window looking out."
Logical as that was, Malcom didn't like that option.
"You said it came to me for a reason."
Diana shrugged. "Maybe you weren't supposed to bring it inside."
Malcom stood up on the bed and grasped the rainbow in his hands, then sat down on the bed with it.
It didn't struggle, just hovered there above his hands, moisture collected on his palms in small droplets.
"Could it be lost?" he asked Diana.
Diana shrugged again. "I'm only sure of one thing, I've got to go to work and so do you. What are you going to do with it while we aren't here?"
"Let it roam around the house," Malcom said, reluctantly setting the rainbow free.
"We'll sort it out tonight."
That night when Malcom returned, the rainbow was again at the window. Its colors were dimmed from the brightness they had initially been, and it was drooping in the middle.
"You'd better set it free," Diana cautioned. "You don't want to be responsible for killing the rainbow."
Reluctantly, Malcom grabbed the rainbow in his hands and brought it outside on the deck. Then he opened his hands, releasing it.
The rainbow hovered there, shining faintly in the gloom, but made no movement to flee.
"Did it go?" Diana called softly from the door.
"No. It's not leaving," Malcom said triumphantly.
Diana came up beside him.
"Wow. I was sure it would. Take your hands away and see what it does."
Malcom slowly removed his hands from underneath the rainbow. It hovered there for a moment, then floated over to the door of their house and pressed itself against the glass. Malcom opened up the door and the rainbow zipped back inside quickly, evading the barking dogs as it fled upwards to sit on the hanging fan blades.
Diana and Malcom came back inside, then looked at one another.
"I guess we should let it stay," Diana said.
Day after day passed.
The rainbow resisted all efforts to set it free, soon learning to evade grasping hands that reached for it.
"It's getting dimmer and dimmer," Malcom said forlornly.
"But it's practically uncatchable now. I don't know what to do."
"We have to find out why it came to us," Diana suggested. "A rainbow symbolizes a lot of things, but what is it really? It's made from sunlight shining through rain."
"There's no rain in here and no sunlight," Malcom replied. "So for it to even be here is impossible."
"Yet it's here," Diana retorted. "It moves, too. Maybe it's not a rainbow at all."
Malcom looked at her, exasperated. "What else could it be?"
"An idea of a rainbow," she answered.
"How did you come up with that?" he asked.
"You said rainbows are different things to different people. Well, to me they're signs of blessing or inspiration, of happiness. What are they to you?"
"That the rain is stopped and the sun is coming out. It means hope."
Diana nodded. "Did you need hope when you found it?"
"Yes," Malcom said, looking at her strangely. "I was feeling tired and worn out and a little depressed."
"Do you still feel that way?"
"Yes," he replied grumpily. "I'm worried we've done the wrong thing and messed up."
"Maybe we did," Diana answered. "But I think we can fix it. We'll give it our best shot tomorrow at dawn."
At sunrise, they stood on the deck in pajamas, carefully holding the lid on the large pot.
A light mist surrounded them.
"Thank you for coming to us," Diana said simply, opening the lid.
"You gave us a taste of inspiration." She touched the rainbow lightly. "I'd forgetten what awe really was." Cupping her hand under the rainbow, she slowly lifted it out. "But there are other people who need you. Go now, with our thanks."
The rainbow slowly floated out of the pot, drifted away, and then came back, hovering above Malcom's hands.
"I'll be okay," Malcom reassured.
He forced a smile. "Thank you for giving me hope."
The rainbow suddenly stiffened, the arch rounding out, the colors brightening.
It floated up into the air above them, becoming larger and larger until it stretched from one horizon to the other, the colors brilliant in the sun's early light.
Then it faded slowly, its brilliant colors disappearing.
"Do you think it will ever come back?" Malcom whispered hopefully.
Diana shook her head. "Not to us. We took more than our quota."
She flashed a grin. "We'll just have to be on the lookout for other miracles. Everyone needs a little hope now and thenó"
"Nonsense," Malcom replied authoritively. "That's the phrase, a little nonsense now and then is treasured by the wisest man."
"Then I'm sure to be deluged in both wonders and wisdom, being married to you,"
Diana answered smartly, opening the door.
"Come inside, wise man. I'll make breakfast."
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