Thursday, August 1, 2013

The blue umbrella

I found a plastic umbrella under a bench at the train station. It was blue and perfectly acceptable, with a scratched handle being its only fault. The top opened smoothly. Its spokes were intact. And it kept the rain off my glasses and hair, ensured my clothes were dry.

We met just outside of Kyoto, on the empty platform where no one but us waited to return to the city. The opposite platform was inundated. New trains arrived every seven minutes, and a fresh flood of faces waded out to begin the mile-long walk up to the temple where the leaves were turning unimaginable, cartoonish colors.

"Another umbrella?" my wife asked. We already had a plastic umbrella, clear and a little small, a child's umbrella. It found us in Osaka, at the city aquarium, where one of an army of children let it slip from tiny fingers, only to end up in mine.

"This one's busted," I said. It was. Our clear umbrella stuck a little when we tried to open it. "Plus it's bigger. And blue."

"Fine. Whatever."

I propped our clear umbrella against the bench and picked up the blue one. It was heavy in my hands, and I hooked its end on my forearm as the train arrived to take us back into town.

"See you around," I said to our old umbrella as we boarded the train.

The train moved quickly, pulling away from the station. I looked out the window and watched the clear umbrella grow distant and then vanish, out of our life, but perhaps into someone else's.

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