Mom struggled to get Molly out of her car seat. Thunder rumbled in the distance and Molly was getting very fidgety. "Come on, Molly. It's okay," she cooed as she pulled her up and shut the car door with her hip. "It's just a little thunder."
Jessie had to make a conscious effort to stay absolutely still while in Molly's grasp. She had never been outdoors in the rain before and did not like the big wet drops that fell into her eyes and soaked her cloth doll body. Plus, she was a little scared of the thunder too.
Mom swung Molly over her shoulder and Molly repositioned Jessie in her arms. Suddenly, a loud clap of thunder slammed to the earth, and the sky flashed brightly for just a second. Molly opened her mouth wide and cried loudly. As she sobbed, she lost her grip on Jessie and the poor doll fell to the damp ground.
Jessie's unmoving eyes locked with Molly's for an instant and she silently willed Molly to come back for her. But the thrashing toddler grew farther away with each step her mother took.
Molly wailed and swung her arms trying to get her mother's attention, but Mom hadn't noticed Molly drop the doll, and she tried in vain to soothe her squirming daughter while getting her in the house at the same time.
The loneliness Jessie felt as she saw the door slam shut could only be compared to one other incident that had taken place in her lifetime.
Woody, Buzz, and Rex watched in horror from the window upstairs in Andy's room. "What are we going to do now?" Rex shouted in a panic. "She didn't see Molly lose her grip!"
Slinky and Hamm stood with their ears pressed against the door, listening carefully to see if Molly would be able to get her mom to go back for Jessie. But Molly was crying inconsolably and Mom couldn't make out what she was saying through her sobs. She just put her daughter in her toddler bed and shut the door, oblivious to the panic that was taking place in the room across the hall.
"We can't leave her out there," Buzz said urgently. "I'm going to go get her."
"By yourself?" Rex panicked.
Buzz nodded. "There's no sense in everybody getting wet. Besides, we don't have that much time until Andy gets home from school. This rescue mission must be completed as quickly as possible."
"You're right," Woody agreed. "But how are you going to get all the way out there without Andy's mom seeing you?"
Buzz motioned for Slinky Dog to come over. He pushed against the window with all his might. "Help me get this window open," he instructed. Woody and the others obliged. "Slink will lower me down into the bushes. I'll run across the lawn and get Jessie. Then when I come back, Woody will come down and pull us up."
Woody thought for a moment. "It's a good plan," he said. "Just make it as fast as you can." He helped Buzz and Slinky get into position as all the other toys crawled up to the window sill. Buzz held onto Slinky's front paws and Woody and Potato Head grabbed his back paws. Everyone else held onto Woody and Potato to create a force of stability. Slinky leaped down and Buzz waited until he reached as far as he could go. There was still about two feet between Buzz and the lawn. He took a gulp before letting go and fell down into a bush.
After straightening himself out, he rushed to where Jessie was laying face down on the wet ground. His heart almost broke at the sight of her defeated form, but he pushed on. "Jess," he said quietly, placing a gentle hand on her back.
Jessie looked up, her face wet from the rain and her big green eyes tearful. "They left me," she whispered.
Buzz pulled her into a standing position. "They didn't mean to," he said soothingly. "It was just an accident." He took Jessie's hand and led her down the path to the side of the house, where they would be out of sight just in case.
"I'm all wet," Jessie groaned.
"I know," Buzz said. "We'll get you dried off as soon as we get back inside."
"Stupid good for nothing rain!"
"Aw, Jess. The rain's not all bad."
"Oh yeah? How do you know? You can't possibly have been outside THAT many more times than me."
"True, but I probably have watched more television," he admitted.
Jessie put her hands on her hips. "All right then, You tell me. How can you possibly have fun in all this?"
"Well…" Suddenly Buzz got an idea. "You could do this." He began a slippery tap dance in the grass.
Slowly, a huge grin spread across Jessie's face from ear to ear. He looked so silly that she couldn't keep a few giggles from escaping her.
"You see?" Buzz laughed. "You can't dance in the rain without the rain." He held out both his hands for her to join him.
Jessie eagerly took his hands and kicked up her heels. She found that she actually liked the squishing sound her boots made when they hit the wet grass.
"What else?" Jessie asked when they stopped dancing.
Buzz moved closer to her. He noticed that her hair had become a little rumpled in the rain. He reached out and brushed a few strands of yarn hair behind her ear. Jessie's eyes widened a little at the intimacy of the gesture, but she didn't pull away.
Buzz moved his hand to the back of her head. His heart hammered in his chest and he couldn't tell if it was she who moved closer or if it was him. He remembered, though, that the other toys would be watching from the window and lost his nerve, unsure of just how much they could see from their angle. Instead he just pulled her close into a hug.
Over her shoulder, he saw something he knew she would want to see and he gently turned her head. "Look, Jessie! A rainbow!"
Jessie gasped and grinned wider as she took in the brilliant color shining over the bush. "Oh, Buzz! I've never seen a real one before! It's even more beautiful than I ever imagined it would be!"
Buzz flashed her his charming, wide, toothy smile. Jessie playfully punched him in the arm. "You were right, Space Boy. I guess the rain's really not all that bad."
Buzz took her hand. "Come on," he said. "We should get back inside before Andy's mom comes out to pick him up for school." He led her beneath the window and signaled to the others that they were ready.
Woody bounced down holding onto Slinky Dog. Buzz gently lifted Jessie up and placed her in Woody's waiting arms. He watched as the other toys pulled them up and waited patiently until she was safely over.
Woody came back down a few seconds later and Buzz had to jump up to catch his hand.
Once everybody was back inside, Woody ushered Buzz and Jessie into a corner by the foot of the bed. Hamm, Rex, and Mr. Potato Head all carried a giant towel over to them. "Okay, you two. Let's get you dried off."
Jessie eagerly wrapped the towel around her shoulders and motioned for Buzz to come closer. It took him a lot less time for him to dry off since he was made of plastic. Jessie on the other hand shivered slightly.
Buzz put an arm around her. "I'm sorry you had such a terrible time today. But you have to know that both Molly and Andy would never intentionally abandon you."
"Besides," he continued. "I will always be here to come rescue you."
Jessie smiled. "Thanks, Buzz. You really are the sweetest space toy ever." She curled up into a ball underneath the towel and snuggled closer to him, resting her head against his wide chestplate. Buzz was a little surprised, but he wrapped both arms around her protectively. He looked up to see Woody giving him a thumbs up and flashed him a genuine smile.
They all listened to the pitter patter of the droplets falling against the window from the roof as they waited patiently for Andy to come home from school.