Partially inspired by Somewhere Over the Rainbow, which I'm going to be performing and has recently decided to lodge itself in a cunning place just behind my ear where I can hear it playing constantly and yet can't swat it away.
Rainy Day Repartee
"Mama?" came a little voice, as plaintively as only a six-year old's voice can sound.
"It's been raining awfully long."
"I know, dearest," his mother answered quietly.
"Seems to me it must have been—" the little boy rolled his dusky grey eyes skyward as if the number of days were on the ceiling "—it must have been at least fifty days."
"Not quite so long, I'm afraid," said his mother, who sounded very much as if she was holding back laughter only with great difficulty. "It has been raining four days."
"Only four days?" the little boy said with great skepticism.
Silence echoed comfortably across the room once more. It was a cozy sight: a roaring fire; a woman sitting cross-legged on a luxurious pelt in front of it, thoughtfully toying with a strand of her hair; a dark-haired man in an armchair, deeply engrossed in a slim, midnight-blue volume; a little boy kneeling on the flagstones in front of a rain-lashed window, wistfully staring out at the grey afternoon.
The little boy now stood up and came to stand in front of his mother, looking pale but as if he had finally come to a decision about something.
"Mama, you must let me go outside."
His mother looked up. "No, Elboron." She said it neither harshly nor commandingly, but understandingly, despite having had to endure a number of similar requests over the past four days. She understood how hard it was for a little boy of six to stay cooped up in a house, no matter how large, for four days straight. "I allowed you to go out when the rain first started, for it was only a little stronger than a drizzle, but I cannot allow you out in such a downpour."
"But Mama—" his eyes pleaded with her to understand "—I must. It's a…" he trailed off, obviously working very hard to remember something. "It's a matter of life and death," he said triumphantly, recalling the phrase.
"You are right, Elboron," answered his mother, shaking her head and causing her golden tresses to fall into her eyes. She brushed them away impatiently. "If you go outside, you will drown in the rain or develop a terrible sickness, or even slip in the mud and break your neck. You must stay inside."
"But Mama, if I am not able to rescue the animals, they will all die!"
"What do you mean, dearest?"
"It will never stop raining," declared Elboron decidedly. "I know it will never stop raining. And if it never stops raining all the animals will drown, so I must go outside and save them!"
"Dearest," said Éowyn, reassuringly, "Rain always stops falling, eventually."
"This rain will not," said Elboron defiantly, jutting his little chin out.
"Elboron, animals dying due to rainstorms are all part of a natural cycle," said his mother gently. "There is nothing you can do but stay inside and keep yourself safe, as all the animals are attempting to do outside."
"But they won't be safe, because you aren't letting me go out and help them!" Elboron's voice was slightly panicked.
"Faramir," said Éowyn in an only slightly exasperated voice, "Do disengage yourself from that book—" her tone of voice obviously spoke of her disinterest in it "—and explain to your son why he cannot go outside."
"Listen to your mother, Elboron," murmured Faramir absently.
"Forgive me." Faramir stood up, lovingly put the book on his chair, and came to sit beside his wife. Elboron immediately settled himself into his father's lap.
"Elboron, what do you want to do? What are you going to do when you go outside?"
"I want to save the animals," enunciated Elboron carefully, as if speaking to an especially moronic person.
Faramir paused, and said, "I am afraid you misunderstood me, child. I meant to inquire as to your plan of action. How do you aim to save all these animals? Does "all these animals" include only herbivores, or animals that may eat you alive? If they do include the latter, how will you manage to save them without them devouring you? How will you know whether you have missed one animal? How will you locate each and every hidden nest and burrow?"
Elboron stared at his father, slightly aghast, his mouth open. Éowyn silently thanked Béma for blessing her with an intelligent husband.
"I… I don't really know," stammered Elboron.
"There are not many easy answers to the questions I have asked you, child," explained Faramir. "The task is impossible. The best thing to do is to stay here, with your mother and I, and wait for the storm to end."
Elboron twisted his head slightly and looked at his father doubtfully. "But what if the rain never stops?"
Faramir looked steadily back into his son's grey eyes and solemnly said, "I swear on my honor that this wretched gale will end in time."
Elboron stared just as keenly back, and it seemed to Éowyn that a flash of understanding passed between them, like a bolt of lightning.
Elboron relaxed and said, cheerfully, "I s'pose I believe you, then." Then his face fell, and he inquired despondently—how quickly little ones' moods change!—, "But when will it stop? I have nothing to do here."
"What about telling stories?" suggested Faramir, his eyes lighting up.
"But that's all I've been doing these days," answered Elboron, dismissing the idea with a regal wave of his hand that narrowly avoided knocking his mother on the face.
"Do you not want to hear stories of the wise Steward?" questioned Éowyn, leaning her endangered face forward to land a kiss on Elboron's plump cheek.
"Or of Dernhelm the brave?" added Faramir.
"I already know that they are the both of you," said Elboron dispiritedly.
"Surely one story will not hurt you," said Éowyn, smiling.
"Perhaps one story will be all right," conceded Elboron. He brightened. "I want to hear the story of the sailor and the gold boat and the shiny jewel."
"You cannot truly be my son if you do not know the name of Eärendil the Blessed!" exclaimed Faramir in mock horror.
"I 'member his name now," protested Elboron. He clambered from Faramir's lap, faced his father and mother, clasped his hands behind his back, and took a deep breath.
"Eärendil the Blessed, the Mariner, in his golden boat,
Journeys across the starlit skies, a shining message of hope.
"See?" he crowed, and his little audience applauded appreciatively.
"That was beautifully said, Elboron," glowed Éowyn, with mother-like praise.
"But now I don't want a story anymore," said the difficult-to-please child, settling himself back into Faramir's lap, a safe haven. His father distractedly stroked Elboron's dark curls.
There was silence once more. It was a lovely silence, one that you drank in and breathed deeply, savoring every moment.
It was promptly broken by Elboron.
"I don't see why it has to rain," he grumbled, thinking longingly of the woods, his colossal playground. "Rain doesn't have any use at all, I think."
"Ah, but that is where you are wrong, Elboron," said Faramir, smiling a little. "The rain always leaves something behind."
"Mud?" asked the practical boy. Éowyn bit back a smile and Faramir shook his head.
"Beauty," he said simply. "If you walk through the woods after a rainstorm, there will be several broken branches—and mud, as you said, but if you overlook those, you will see a fresh beauty that a dry forest could never achieve."
"The leaves will have little rivulets of water dripping off, glinting and glittering in the most bewitching way, and you will see colors more vivid than ever before. But sometimes—" Éowyn lowered her voice to a secretive whisper "—it leaves something even more beautiful behind. For a dazzling mystery hides behind the rain, and sometimes chooses to reveal itself."
"What? What is it?" Elboron's eyes were wide with curiosity.
"A maelstrom of jewels and colors," breathed Faramir. "Rubies and emeralds, sapphires and amber, amethysts and a million other colors interwoven—"
Elboron ruthlessly cut through his father's poetic tirade. "What is a meyls-stroom?"
"Something like to a whirlpool, I suppose."
"So there is a whirlpool of jewels behind the rain?" Elboron's eyes were popping by now.
"No," repaired Faramir hastily. "I was being figurative."
"Then what is it?"
"A painted arc across the sky," said Faramir, wisely choosing simpler words.
"Nay, not just an arc, Faramir," said Éowyn, frowning in a way that showed she was enjoying herself very much. "You Gondorians may believe what you will, but the Rohirrim know better."
"So what is it really?" asked Elboron impatiently, wanting a few straight answers. Poor child, he wasn't going to receive any soon.
"It is a bridge," said Éowyn in a most mysterious voice. "A bridge leading to a beautiful place."
"What kind of place?" Elboron was becoming rather tired of questioning his parents.
"A place where the moon is gold and the sun is silver, a place where tiny creatures with iridescent wings perch on your shoulder, a place where dreams fall from the clouds and into your sleep."
"Truly?" the little boy said dubiously.
Éowyn laughed. "No," she answered. "That is simply a fable."
"Oh," said Elboron, looking disappointed. "Then what is it, really?" he demanded, his patience sorely tested. "Really and truly?"
Faramir smiled and pointed out the window. "See for yourself, child."
Elboron followed his father's finger and realized with a little start that the rain had stopped. Slowly, he stood up and stretched a hand out towards the window, as if he could touch the pretty thing that graced the sky.
Then he snatched his hand back and frowned. "I did not know that there could be two at the same time."
"Two?" Faramir laughed. "Nay, that is impossible."
"But there are two," he insisted. "See for yourself," he added in an echo of his father.
Faramir stood up and stretched like a cat, then followed his son and stood by the window, squinting up at the pale blue sky. "I see but one… Dear Valar," he suddenly said, looking surprised. "You are right, Elboron. Two…"
Éowyn too stood up, smoothing her blue skirts, and the family of three looked at the sky.
They faced an immeasurable azure field, with a few stray wisps of clouds floating aimlessly here and there. And there, ethereal and delicate, were, not one, but two arcs in the sky, subtly displaying all their soft, divine colors. Elboron silently counted: ruby, amber, emerald, sapphire, amethyst… yes, they were all there.
"How can it be?" asked Éowyn wonderingly, shaking her head as if to make sure what she was seeing truly existed.
"Surely it can only be a sign of good fortune," murmured Faramir, who was kneading the heels of his palms against his eyes.
"What are they called?" asked Elboron—for, until now, he had not received an answer to his repeatedly-asked question.
The two parents smiled tenderly over his head, and Faramir bent down to kiss Elboron's curls.
"They are called rainbows."
A/N: Yes, it is possible for there to be two rainbows in the sky at once, in case you're wondering: I've personally seen three. And it was an amazing sight, let me tell you.