Rainbow Connection or: Not My Cup of Tea
(Admittedly, the formatting is not how I would like it, but I don't have the time at the moment to add in all my indents. Also, all the lyrics are in italics. This was for my first assignment in creative writing, write about a song and place it into a story. it's a good prompt... I'm not sure how well it worked for me though. I felt a podcast would be the best output for of this.)
The first time I heard Kenny Loggins’ Rainbow Connection, I was five years old. I was in my parents’ bedroom, crawling around on the floor as though I was a slithering snake, or perhaps a make believe dinosaur. My father was skirting the edges of the room with a vacuum and a dustpan, picking up tiny chips of wood and sawdust, making sure I didn’t get any splinters from the recently finished hardwood floor. It was just my father and I that night. My mother, a high-school art teacher, had taken a select group of students on a elective trip to Andros for the winter break, and as a result, had left me in my father’s charge.
When she was gone, he and I would do all the things we weren’t otherwise allowed to do, like eat our morning cereal in front of the tiny black-and-white TV in the parlour, and have a famously good time on our make believe island, which amounted to nothing more than a tiny tent, pitched on the middle rug in the office. I loved when my mother left- it was, perhaps, one of the most magical things I remember about being young.
The second time I heard the song, I was eighteen. My parents, then divorced six years, were standing outside the kitchen door of the tiny farmhouse I then lived in with my mother and brother, two years younger than I. I watched them, two adults standing in heaps of every-falling snow, muttering in hushed voices. But I already knew. My mother stood still, her five-foot-four frame looking only smaller and more hunched against the silhouette of my father’s six-foot-two shadow.
“Why are there so many/songs about rainbows,/and what’s on the other side?”
I saw the tears begin to leak out of my mothers eyes, saw her reach, slightly, impulsively, towards my father. He flinched. She flinched. Hiding her face, she stamped her feet, as if trying to warm up. He stood there, frozen solid.
My brother was dead.
There was no way around it, no way to deny it. My beautiful, perfect, naive baby brother was dead. It was an accident, my father said. It was something to do with the brakes. No, they hadn’t tried to get the body. No, it was too dangerous.
“Who says that ev'ry wish/Would be heard and answered/When wished on a morning star”
She asked how he could let my brother take off. She asked how he could just let him go. He said it wasn’t his fault. She slapped him.
I stood inside and watched them. I could feel the hot, briney tears slowly rolling down my cheeks. I could taste them on my lips, could feel the mascara gently melting off the upper lashes of my eyes each time I blinked. I felt my eyes swell up, overflow, empty onto my sweater. I heard the tea kettle, whistling on and on. I couldn’t move.
“Have you been half asleep/And have you heard voices/I've heard them calling my name”
I heard his voice in my head. I heard him laughing. I heard him over the tea kettle, over the rising voices, over the choking sounds of my own sobs. I saw him there, standing in his tattered jeans and black coat. I saw him. I heard him.
“Someday we'll find it/The rainbow connection/The lovers, the dreamers and me”
Then nothing. I watched their mouths move, but no sound came out. I felt my chest rise and fall, felt my tears stop. I shut my mouth. I reached over, shutting off the tea water that had since boiled over onto the stove. I felt for a mug, a tea bag, poured myself a cup of tea. Then I used a rag, from an old t-shirt of his to mop up the mess I had made.