“Umbrellas” by Amina Cain

Image by Kelly Caldwell / @kellycalledwell

Here in the country I look at children’s books when I go to the library because there are hardly any books on art. If I’m honest, I’m comforted by their illustrations; there’s something in them that reaches me.

It rains in a drawing and if the drawing is good you feel that you are wet. The hard rain falls on the umbrellas moving slowly down the street. I want to be in the street too.

Maybe I have always needed things to be softened, like things are softened for children. If I were honest about who I am more of the time I would write more honest things.

When I was younger I felt everything around me; in one summer this was especially true. It sounds simple, but it was because the town where I lived was empty. I can’t say why the emptiness was so nice, maybe that people were normally everywhere. When they were gone for the summer that emptiness made space for me. I was aware of my future, and I could also relate to myself as a child. That was when I was fourteen.

But I take my evening walks here now. I begin just as it is getting dark and then walk into that darkness. It is really the best time. The plants are hard to see, but sometimes a leaf or a flower is glowing in a bit of light from the window of a farmhouse. And the scent of the flowers is more refreshing then, not heavy with the day, and the day’s sun.



“Umbrellas” is an excerpt from the coming novel The Energy of Vitória.


Amina Cain is the author, most recently, of CREATURE, out with Dorothy, a publishing project. She lives in Los Angeles, where she is working on a novel, The Energy of Vitória, and a book of essays on the space of fiction.