One thing I never understood about Britta was how she could hate the rain so much. It rained most Sabbaths when we took her to church. It rained when Mum worked in the garden, it rained when we went shopping for a new pair of shoes, it rained when we went to Nan and Granddad's house to give Mum a rest. But Britta never got used to it. Anything more than the gentlest mist, and she'd be awake and wailing.
Sometimes, Mum can make her stop crying. She'll bounce her around and sing to her and try to nurse her. But sometimes Britta doesn't want to be bounced, sung to, or nursed. She just wants to cry and curse the rain. Then Mum will sigh and ask me to take her inside. I love nothing more than sitting by the fireplace, drying her off, and letting her suck on my finger. She's so wee and cute, and sometimes she'll look up at me with big blue eyes and smile.
Her hair is starting to grow in. I can never decide if it was red or blonde--it's right in the middle. I'll stroke her hair and boop her nose and make faces and talk to her, and she'll wiggle and make noises and put her fingers in her mouth. If she falls asleep while I'm holding her, I set her on the bed and go help Mum.
Today, it's raining fierce hard, and Mam can't find her nalbinding needle.
"I can borrow one from Nora O'Brien," Mum says, mostly to herself. "Britta will fuss if she goes out in the rain. Alynn, can you keep an eye on the wee ones?"
"I can, Mum."
"Da's out in the smithy if anything comes up, but I know you can handle it." Mum kisses everyone and makes sure Britta's had enough to eat before she leaves, and knowing her, she'll start chatting or helping out with some chore and be gone for half an hour. And until then, I'm in charge.
"Let's play," Tarin says, handing me the little wooden ox that pulled a little wooden cart. "Let's play store!"
Store is easy to play. Tarin pretends he's a merchant and finds little things around the house to put in his cart and sell to me. I've got a little pouch of pebbles that we pretend are silver coins. Tarin can play Store for hours, but since I'm in charge, I want to do something worthwhile.
"I've a better idea," I say. "Everyone says Britta won't mind the rain once she gets used to it, right?"
"And she can't get used to the rain if she stays inside, right?"
"So let's take Britta outside and show her that there's nothing to be afraid of. Then Mum will come home and find that Britta doesn't mind the rain, and she'll be happy. Right?"
Tarin grins. "Wight, Let's go, 'Lynn!"
I bundle Tarin up so he won't catch cold, and I drape my own plaid over my head. Britta's too little to have a plaid, so I hold her against my chest and share mine with her. Sure enough, Britta begins to cry as soon as the first raindrops hit her.
"Whisht, my heart," I say. "See? There's naught to be afraid of. It's just water."
Britta squalls, and I start to wonder if this was a bad idea. Tarin starts to jump in a mud puddle. "Stop!" I cry. "Tarin, we just washed that--"
"I know it's squishy. Just--" Sighing, I take his hand and lead him inside. "Let's play Store."
Now Tarin's crying, Britta's crying, I'll have to wash Tarin's clothes before Mum gets home, why did I have to do this? While Tarin's kicking around on the dirt floor, I take off his trousers and plaid; his shirt is blessedly clean. He can run around in it until his trousers dry. I wash the mud off and hang everything on the back of a chair to dry. Tarin's still crying, Britta's still crying. When the clothes are hung up, I sit on the floor between them all and cry too.
I'm glad when Mum comes back. I'll let her figure out how to make Britta stop crying.
M. J. Piazza is a Jesus-loving, dog-walking country girl who just so happens to write books.