The Words of the Exler Family

Onion and the Rainbow Factory

Sue Exler
March 1989

If you looked closely you might see a tear or two trickling down Onion's nose, depending, of course, on how beautiful was the rainbow he was making.

Do you believe in fairy tales? Once upon a time, in a faraway land way, way up in the white clouds lived a little white bear. Well, actually he wasn't so little; he was quite round and fat. He had big blue eyes and a round, shiny red nose. His name was... well, I bet you can't guess what his name was. No, it wasn't Pete, and it wasn't Joe. His name was Onion. And I bet you can't guess what he did. He made rainbows. That's right, rainbows. Beautiful rainbows in all different colors, and all different sizes. You see, Onion worked in a rainbow factory with the other rainbow-makers.

But Onion was different from the others. He was the only bear who cried when he made a rainbow. He cried because rainbows were so very beautiful. He just couldn't help it. That's why he was called Onion.

Because Onion was so different from the other bears, they always laughed at him. Sometimes they even pointed their fingers at Onion, snickering and giggling and calling him names. So Onion was usually found working quietly by himself. If you looked closely you might see a tear or two (or even three) trickling down his nose, depending, of course, on how beautiful was the rainbow he was making.

The rainbow factory was actually a small part of a very big business that made more than just rainbows. Oh yes. They also made full moons, half-moons and quarter-moons; as well as stars of all different colors. Sometimes, when Onion seemed a little overworked and cried a little too much, they put him to work making full-moons.

On this particular day, Onion was found working very hard indeed, for it was the last week of the Great Competition. In eight days, the maker of the most beautiful star, moon or rainbow was to win a Great Prize.

Of course, all the bears, not only Onion, were working terribly hard because they all wanted to win the Great Prize very much.

The Great Competition

As Onion was working on his rainbow, sitting quietly on his cloud, he happened to glance down. He looked once, then he looked twice. But the third time he looked really hard. He was looking straight into the bedroom of a little girl. She was lying down, quite ill, under the covers. A boy just a little bit older was sitting on her bed, his head hanging down. Onion watched with big eyes, and listened closely to what they were saying.

"Oh Eva," said the little boy, "please get well soon. I miss you. You know how much I love you, my dear little sister."

"Adam," said Eva, "you are such a wonderful brother. Every day you come to sit beside me and you always cheer me up, you really do. What would I do without you?"

Eva started to cough, and then she sighed.

"Oh Adam, do you know what I would really like?" She sighed again. "I would love more than anything to look out my window and see a beautiful rainbow. I've never seen a rainbow before. But somehow I feel that if I could just see a rainbow, I would be happy." Adam put his arms around Eva and hugged her quietly.

Onion had leaned over so far on his little cloud to hear what they were saying that he knocked off two boxes of tissues and almost fell off himself!

When Onion had climbed back on top again, he just sat there thinking about what he had heard. His heart almost broke for Adam and Eva.

Suddenly, Onion forgot all about the Great Competition. He forgot all about the Great Prize. Onion decided he was going to make the most beautiful rainbow anyone had ever seen! Not for the Great Competition, but for Adam and Eva.

Adam and Eva looked out the window at the most beautiful rainbow they had ever seen.

Adam and Eva's Rainbow

Onion was seen working very hard in the days that followed. He also seemed a bit more teary than usual. The other bears just laughed and went on with their work. They giggled and snickered at Onion. Some of the bears even threw things at him and then quickly hid so Onion wouldn't see who had done it.

This made Onion's heart ache, but he kept working steadily. He knew that time was short.

Every day Adam went to look out his sister's bedroom window, searching and praying for a rainbow to appear. He even brought pictures of rainbows, but it didn't seem to help.

Adam came into Eva's room that morning, but she seemed so weak and more ill than ever before.

"Adam," said Eva. "I'm feeling so tired."

"Eva, I'm here," said Adam. "I'm here with you always. Don't worry, I'll take care of you." And Adam said another prayer for Eva.

Well, it was close. They almost had Onion working on full-moons again. But, because of the Great Competition, they let him alone. Next to Onion, some scattered about, some piled high, were 100 empty boxes of tissues. Finally, Onion put the finishing touch on the rainbow.

When Adam came into Eva's room that morning, the first thing that he saw was Eva standing at the window, looking out at the most beautiful rainbow he had ever seen. It had so many beautiful colors, and it shone and sparkled with such wonderful lights that it seemed magical.

When Eva turned around to look at Adam her cheeks were rosy, her eyes were sparkling and bright and... she was laughing!

Adam ran to Eva and threw his arms around her. Hugging each other with brotherly and sisterly love, they walked together to the window.

As they watched, their eyes grew big and they wondered at two teardrops that slid from color to color, tinkling musically as they went, only to disappear gently into the clouds.

I think you can guess who won the Great Prize that year. Yes, it was Onion. And a prouder, happier bear would be hard to find. He has so many friends now, and I don't think anyone laughs at Onion anymore.

If you happen to see a very beautiful rainbow on a particularly rainy day, well... it just might be that Onion has been working on that rainbow especially for you! 

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