To 11-year-old Hugo, the rain was never-ending.
He sat in his assigned seat, eyes following the raindrops racing each other on the glass window.
"Hugo! I got a cool idea!"
Hugo glanced at the boy sitting next to him. He didn't understand why he kept talking to him, but listened anyway.
"I dare you to steal that umbrella!" the boy grinned, his chubby cheeks protruding.
Hugo glanced at the polka dot umbrella resting in its umbrella stand near the teacher's desk. Droplets of rain rolled down its purple fabric and into the small puddle forming underneath it.
Hugo grimaced. "Yuck, purple."
The boy nodded enthusiastically. "Yeah!"
It was the first time someone disliked purple as much as he did, and so, the two boys spent their afternoon class bonding over their hatred for purple until the bell signalling the end of school rang.
"Are you gonna take it?" the boy, Gabriel, whispered, pointing at the lonely umbrella.
Hugo pursed his lips, dark brows furrowed. "I don't know...my mum said not to touch stranger's stuff."
Gabriel smirked. "You listen to your mama?"
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"Alright, I'll take it then!" Gabriel stood up.
Hugo glanced at the umbrella stand.
A girl wearing a ridiculously purple dress with violet polka dots grabbed the umbrella.
She glanced towards the door.
Hugo did too, heart thumping.
The students were all rushing, like an unstructured army of ants, to the exit. She too joined them, grip on the umbrella tight.
"She's about to leave!" Gabriel exclaimed, and before Hugo could reply, Gabriel raced towards the girl, snatched her umbrella, and ran out the classroom.
Hugo's jaw dropped. He did it. He actually did it!
He grabbed his own and Gabriel's bag and ran after him. As he passed the girl, he noticed her lowered head and clenched hands, and a small part of him felt guilty.
"Gabriel, wait!" he called out to him in the hallway.
Gabriel paused. He turned around and stuck his tongue out. "Try to catch me, Hugo!"
And Hugo did. For some unknown reason, one unknown to himself, he chased after Gabriel for fifteen minutes, past the classrooms, through the sea of students, across the basketball court, and on top of the playground until they reached the front of the school.
"Enough," said a breathless Hugo. He leaned against the brick wall, the shelter above them protecting them from the rain. His heart pounded so widely, he wondered whether he'd die from a heart attack. He coughed, kneeling down to retrieve his water bottle from his bag.
"Me too. Give me mine," Gabriel demanded, wiping the sweat off his face with his sleeve.
"You take it yourself." He chucked Gabriel's bag on the floor between them.
Gabriel scoffed, picking it up. He took his bottle and held it against his forehead. "You're a slow runner."
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Hugo ignored him and took a sip from his bottle. He gazed out the parking lot, the students all rushing to get out of the rain.
Suddenly, a black car with tinted windows skidded to a stop in front of them.
"Oh, that's my brother," said Gabriel. "You return this."
He held out the umbrella for Hugo to take, but when he didn't take it, Gabriel chucked it on the ground between them.
He hopped down the steps and disappeared into the car, leaving Hugo standing alone with only an umbrella to care for him.
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Just like now.
Hugo stands under his umbrella in a park drenched in pink petals, eyes fixed onto Vellary's retreating back.
'Over my dead body.'
He shakes his head. Although she said that, he still follows her silently, knowing she has no idea where she is nor which direction to go.
Her steps are light, quick, shoes drowning every time she walks through a puddle. Her shoulders shake, her arms wrapped around her waist in an effort to protect herself from the rain.
She hasn't changed.
Just like the time he tried to return her umbrella and--
He halts, eyes widening, her purple hoodie, for a split second, morphing into the polka dot dress she wore back then.
Hugo shakes his head to clear away the thought and jogs up to her. She'sgoing to get sick if she stays like this.
He places the umbrella over her head, which exposes him to the rain.
Vellary smacks the umbrella away and quickens her pace.
"Seriously, you're going to get sick!" he says and covers her again.
But she whirls, grabs the handle, and, to his surprise, shoves it into his chest. "Fuck off."
She walks away, and Hugo, once again, is reminded of their first encounter, Vellary's drenched hoodie sticking to her back the same way her polka dot dress stuck to her then.
11-year-old Hugo was kneeling against the brick wall of his school, watching a student struggle to keep their umbrella from flying away.
He glanced at the one in his hand. Should I use this to go home?
Hugo didn't have anyone waiting for him in the parking lot. He didn't have any friends to walk home with, and he didn't have an umbrella to keep himself safe from the rain.
Just then, something purple appeared in his peripheral vision.
A purple dress.
Hugo stood up, eyes focused on the back of her head. Her violet ribbons, controlled by the wind, circled her head like a halo.
"Excuse me," he said. "Your umbrell--"
The girl turned around.
Hugo sucked in a startled breath.
If there was one way to describe the person in front of him, Hugo, for sure, wouldn't say beautiful, because beautiful was dull when it came to her.
She captivated him, her warm, brown eyes, encircled with lashes like feathered, black wings of an angel, had the blood rushing to his cheeks. The curve of her face, the purse of her red lips had him questioning whether such person was allowed to be born human, because to him, she looked ethereal.
She glanced down. "My umbrella," she said, her voice soft.
Hugo tensed before clumsily thrusting the umbrella towards her. "This-this is yours."
The girl stared at the umbrella quietly, so quietly Hugo could hear the erratic thump of his heart in his ears.
He thought she'd smile, thank him, and, unfortunately for him, be on her way, but instead, she snatched the umbrella from his hands, casted him a seething glare and stomped away.
It took him a second to comprehend what'd happened before he chased after her. He wanted to apologise for what Gabriel did, to tell her he wasn't the one who stole it from her, but when his hand grazed her arm, she slapped it away, and said two words he didn't expect to hear.
A dazed Hugo stood at the top of the steps, the words circling his mind repeatedly.
Fuck off. Fuck off. Fuck off. Fuck off.
Bells were ringing in his ears.
Ones signalling danger or love, 11-year-old Hugo didn't know back then, but now--
Hugo watches Vellary round a corner and disappear out of his sight, a great sense of deja vu washing over him.
Now he knows it was both, and was doomed to suffer from it the moment he saw her and felt like purple was the most beautiful colour in the world.ns 188.8.131.52da2