by Zoë Disher
Gracie found a rainbow, lying in a puddle. It was a bit squashed and a bit dog-chewed but mostly it was wonderful. The colours shimmered and it made a faint humming noise. It smelt like sunshine after rain.
Gracie took the rainbow inside.
'Mum! Look! I found a rainbow!'
'That's nice, darling,' said Mum, from the kitchen sink.
‘What can I keep it in?'
Mum gave her an ice cream tub and kept washing. Gracie wiped the mud off the rainbow with a tea towel and put it in the tub.
'I will call her Shiny-Shiny-Sparkles,' she said. ‘Sparkles for short.’
‘Okay, sweetie,’ said Mum.
‘Look at her, Mum, she’s beautiful!’
‘Yes,’ agreed Mum but she didn’t look away from the eggy frying pan. ‘Now, go and play while I finish cleaning.’
Gracie had a tea party for Sparkles but Sparkles’ colours started to fade. Gracie found Mum in the living room.
'Mum, what do rainbows eat?'
'Pardon?' shouted Mum over the buzz of the vacuum cleaner. 'I can’t hear you!'
‘What do rainbows eat?’ yelled Gracie.
‘Have a banana if you’re hungry,’ called Mum as she pushed the sofa away from the wall.
‘It’s not for me, it’s for Sparkles!’ yelled Gracie but Mum wasn’t listening, she’d found a pile of dog hair in the corner.
Sparkles didn’t eat any banana. Soon her colours disappeared altogether and the humming stopped. She looked like a slug - flabby and grey.
Gracie went and found Mum again.
‘I think she’s sick.'
‘Sparkles. My pet rainbow.’
‘Oh,’ said Mum, as if she was thinking, but all she said next was, ‘Don’t walk on the floor, Gracie. Can’t you see I’m mopping?’
Gracie stamped her foot. 'Mum, she’s losing her colour,' she cried. Then – SCHPLOP – she tipped the blob out at Mum’s feet.
‘Gracie! I just mopped there,’ cried Mum. She poked Sparkles with the mop. ‘What is that thing?’ Sparkles smelt bad, like a muddy puddle. She looked like she belonged in the compost.
‘It’s Sparkles, my rainbow,’ said Gracie. Her lip wobbled and tears stung her eyes. ‘I think she’s dying.’
Mum put down the mop. She pushed the hair out of her eyes and looked at Gracie properly for the first time all morning. Then she knelt down and gave her a hug.
‘Rainbows like sunshine and rain, sweetheart.'
‘Can we help her, Mum? Please?'
In the garden, the sprinkler drummed on the ice-cream tub as the sun beat down.
‘Look Mum, it's working!’
Sparkles squirmed as her colours started to shine again. Then she leapt in the air and formed an arch over the lawn.
‘Oh, Gracie!’ cried Mum, ‘She’s beautiful.’
They watched together as Sparkles grew bigger and bigger and when she finally faded into the sky, Mum gave Gracie another hug. ‘Will you miss Sparkles?’
‘A little bit, but Sparkles is happy now,’ said Gracie. ‘And so am I.’ And she hugged Mum back.
Zoë Disher is a writing mum, living in Newcastle. She likes pina coladas and getting caught in the rain. See more at www.zoedisher.com.au.
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