RAINBOW CUPCAKES/ Haruna Yokoi

There’s something about rainbow cupcakes that I cannot get enough of. My older brother Nick has always told me that real rainbow cupcakes start from the sponge. Rainbow cupcakes with just the rainbow frosting and the rainbow sprinkles are fake rainbow cupcakes. The sponge has to be rainbow too. We made other rules for a rainbow cupcake to be considered a real one. On top of the sponge, there has to be that sweet frosting, the kind that makes your throat hurt if you eat too much of it. To top it off, the real ones are always sprinkled with big rainbow sprinkles and not the small kinds. Before I entered elementary school, we used to go from store to store looking for real rainbow cupcakes. You can’t tell if they are real or not until you peel the wrapper off and see the sponge, so we would buy ones that look real. After he paid for our cupcakes, we would go outside the store, and I would jump up and down, waiting for him to peel the wrapper off the sponge. However, most of the time, the sponge was just plain vanilla. Before I could get upset, he would buy us the ingredients for rainbow cupcakes, and we would go home and bake in our kitchen. Those were the best kinds of rainbow cupcakes. The ones we made together were my absolute favorites. He would always let me have the first bite. It gave me magical feelings.

The morning after the rain is the perfect time to go for a walk. I have never missed a morning walk after the rain because I know it’s the best time to gather the rainbow sprinkles that I need to deliver to Nick. Although it had stopped raining, I wore my favorite bright red rain boots and headed outside. Nick bought me my first pair of rain boots when I was four. He bought it for me because I used to hate the rain. It made me feel very lonely, but he taught me that the rain could be fun. He got me a pair of red ones and the best part was, we were matching. I have outgrown the pair he got me, but ever since then, I have always bought red rain boots. The morning light shone on all of the raindrops on the concrete pavement, not missing a single one, making me feel like I was walking on diamonds. Everything looked special. Even the plastic bag on the side of the road was shining with energy. It started walking as the wind blew. The plastic bag would have made a great ingredient for a rainbow cupcake if only it hadn’t been white. I was only looking for colorful ingredients today. I still clearly remember the day when the rain became my favorite weather. Nick held my small hands, leading me into a puddle, his red rain boots making a big hole in the water. His big, firm hands and broad shoulders made me feel safe even in the rain. His brown hair was wet and sticky, but he smiled at me, revealing his two big front teeth. The moment replayed in my mind, almost in slow motion, as I jumped into a puddle right in front of me and let the water splash onto the surface of my boots.

There’s another reason why I love morning walks. No one is outside, so it feels like I’m the only person in the world. I get to be me and still feel normal. Not that I don’t think that I’m normal, but people always tell me that I’m not. Everyone likes to clarify if I am really a girl so that they could label me. My mom takes me to therapy sessions so that I can be normal, and I’ve learned how to be. As long as I laugh when everyone else laughs, apologize when someone raises their voice, and keep my thoughts to myself, my mom tells me that she’s relieved and happy for me. That’s why I try to be normal. The only person who understands me is Nick. He used to tell me that I don’t have to pretend around him. He knows that I don’t like to pretend.

Walking down the street of my house, I headed towards the park. Nick and I used to come here all the time and play catch. As I walked into the park, the soil underneath my rain boots made little crunchy sounds. I headed for my favorite part of the park. In the right corner, there are a bunch of tiny flowers pushing their heads through the soil. I would often stop playing catch and start looking for flowers, but Nick never minded me doing so. Today, there were red and yellow flowers. I know that Nick would love them because his favorite color is red. But I would feel bad for the flowers if I pull them out, so I took a petal off each of the flowers. I then carefully put them in the pocket of my backpack.

Next, I started walking randomly to wherever my legs took me. About a block down the park, I found a beautiful green leaf hanging from a tree, still damp from the rain shining in the light. There were fallen leaves around the tree, but I wanted that particular leaf, so I climbed a gate near the tree and held my arms up as high as possible. My fingertips brushed the leaf, but I couldn’t grab it. If Nick had been here, he would have held me high in the air with his big hands and helped me get it. But he wasn’t, so I climbed a bit higher and tried again. This time, I was able to grab the one I wanted. I jumped off the gate and put the leaf in the same pocket I left the flower petals.

I knew where I needed to go next. I headed for my grandma’s garden. She has been growing vegetables and fruits for a few years now, and I knew I would find what I was looking for there. Nick and I used to sneak in the garden during early spring and pick the biggest strawberries to snack on when we would pass by her house. I quietly opened the lock to her backyard and slowly opened the door. I opened just a little bit so that I could squeeze my way into her garden just like Nick used to. The first thing that came into my eyes were blueberries. It was exactly what I needed. I picked the one that looked the smoothest and shiniest and put that in the pocket of my backpack as well. I couldn’t find the last ingredient I was looking for, so I left the garden.

As I walked about ten minutes away from my grandma’s house, I remembered that I forgot to lock the gate to her garden again. I do this all the time, and she gets mad at me. However, before I could head back, I found a purple glove on the side of the road. I picked it up and took a close look at it. I could tell it was a toddler’s glove from its size, and on its palm of the glove, there was a drawing of a cute cat. The sun was starting to rise, and I knew I was running out of time, so I took the glove and placed it in my backpack. Now I was finally ready.

I headed for my last destination. These morning walks are my favorite part of my day. My heart feels at ease when I gather these ingredients as I think about Nick and the rainbow cupcakes. I saw the sun rising above a nearby tree and started to see people leave their houses, so I started jogging. I finally reached the stairs and climbed up the steps. I ran out of breath, so I stopped jogging and began to walk. Big tall trees surrounded the place as green as the color in my crayon box. It hurt my neck to look up at them. Here, it was quiet and calm, especially in the early morning. It was just me and the sounds of the birds. Looking straight ahead of me, I see gray square boxes all lined up in straight lines, which always gives me goosebumps. All the perfectly squared boxes colored in the same kind of gray used to scare me until Nick moved here and I had to come here to visit him. I headed towards Nick. I emptied my backpack in front of him and laid the ingredients neatly: The red and yellow flower petals, the green leaf, the blueberry, and the purple glove. It looked like a real rainbow. I wish Nick and I could still go to stores to look for real rainbow cupcakes or bake together. But I can’t, and it would be unfair if I ate them without him. So instead, I deliver him rainbow sprinkles so that he can make his own in heaven. I’m not sure if there are any rainbow cupcakes up there, but I want to make sure he has the ingredients just in case there aren’t. A teardrop fell into the morning light. I miss you, Nick.

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