“It’s going to rain,” Elena said.
“It’s not going to rain,” said Alyssa, her sister.
“You always say that, and then it always does.”
“It won’t rain on my birthday. It’s not allowed.”
“Tell that to those storm clouds up there.” Elena leaned closer to the window as she craned her neck to look at the dark clouds gathering above the house.
“All right,” said Alyssa. “We won’t bring any of the decorations. No streamers. No balloons. None of that. The cupcakes we can keep covered. What else?”
Alyssa waved it off with a hand. “Presents are optional. Besides, no one knows what to get me, so they usually get me gift cards. Those I can just throw in my purse.”
“What if someone gets you a real present?”
“First of all, a gift card is a real present. It’s the best present, because then I’m sure to get something I know I want. Second of all, anything that’s too large to go in my purse can go in the car. Ready?”
Elena took another look at the sky. “I guess. If you’re really determined to do this.”
“Of course I am. Let’s go.”
Everyone met at the park. Most of the guests had called to make sure the birthday girl still wanted to go ahead with her plans for an outdoor party. Alyssa assured everyone that the plans hadn’t changed. Most of the guests brought umbrellas and the park included some some picnic tables that were covered by a roof.
Alyssa proceeded as though she didn’t even see the clouds. She hummed quietly to herself as she covered the picnic tables with tablecloths and laid out the food. She thanked everyone for coming, and for a while, it seemed Alyssa really could keep the storm at bay through sheer willpower.
Elena was in the middle of an epic game of Twister (it was down to just her and Colin) when she felt the first raindrops on her outstretched leg. She looked up and those first rain drops instantly turned to sheets of rain. She and Colin abandoned their game, and along with everyone else, dashed for the safety of the picnic tables. They were already drenched by the time they reached the covered area.
Alyssa was finishing a cupcake as she watched all her friends huddle together under the roof. “Come on you guys!” She dashed out into the rain, arms outspread. “It’s just rain. It’s not like it’s going to hurt you.”
She burst into song with Natasha Bedingfield’s Unwritten. She went right into the chorus with, “Feel the rain on your skin / No one else can feel it for you / Only you can let it in.”
She had a great voice, and she was so happy out there, spinning her arms in the rain that it proved infectious. The guests looked at each other. A few of them giggled.
Elena was the first to break ranks and join her sister. She ran circles around Alyssa as she joined her in singing. “No one else / No one else can speak the words on your lips.”
Pretty soon, all the guests had joined them. They all sang and danced in the rain, splashed water at each other, and jumped in mud puddles.
It was the best birthday party Alyssa had ever had.
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