11,041 vagabonds plus:
It's quite alright. Come forward, I will not bite. You probably can not tell, but I was third in line when I was rescued. I do not know what happened to those behind me. I do know that we all did not know our mothers and fathers, and we'd cry in the night. Next thing I remember was shivering, shaking hard, being lifted up, my sore bony ribs wrapped into a soiled blanket. I broke away and ran up to a fence. I hate fences, but I stayed. It's why I circle before I sleep, to check escape openings. But I don't think I'm leaving.
You may touch me. Not so bad, now. I love the warm kitchen, and I have a steel dish with my name glued on it. See my name around my neck. Food is so much better here. Especially when I hear my name and tender meat is given to me from above. For that I bring them shoes in the hall.
One thing bad. Sometimes I hear the newspaper being slowly rolled up, and I know I'm in a world of hurt. Like one time I dove at stupid cat making a play for buzzing fly at the windowsill, only the window was there in front of me like right now. Over and over again, I do not understand. Please sit beside me. Pardon this kiss. Anyway...Master laughs at cat but it drives me batty. So I dive and next thing I know it's rolled newspaper where it hurts.
umbrellas of magburg
Sitting in a train station in a heavy downpour you can quickly become the interlocutor of umbrellas. You must keep it to yourself, for you do not want to broadcast like the man guarding the swimming pool, announcing the waiting times of those wanting to jump in after having eaten. "Egg salad sandwich? Forty five minute wait. Beans, you say? Two hours, young man, straight to the bottom"!
That young woman with the umbrella held back behind her hat-less head may look as cheerful as the Morton Salt girl, but you observe her pale hand gripping the handle, no spinning, rigid. 'Broken-hearted', you nod to no one, she has six months of drinking milk right out of the container from her drafty apartment fridge before her heart will discover her very own Gene Kelly.
A man steps forward. Nice suit, heavy over-coat, fedora. Black, lifeless umbrella directly over his head, water pouring evenly overboard like clogged gutters above a nicotine-stained insurance building. He's right out of a Hitchcock movie, assassin stepping forward with a twin umbrella, gunfire, chocolate syrup blood hemorrhaging from the wound. A woman screams, and the shooter escapes in a forest of melancholy black vinyl mushroom tops. You want to scream, 'That man has a gun'! but you remain silent trying to read the conspiratorial plan from his magpie black eyes at an awkward angle.
You're back underneath the eaves on that hard bench, safe from the spraying mist. Your umbrella is still rolled, fastened with a solitary snap. You hold it briefly at your nose - there's not a lovelier scent than an old umbrella shaken and dried natural, a reminder of meeting your true love as she descended from the train in a warm rain all those years ago, a few wayward drops spotting the shoulders of her cream-colored coat. How you held her close with one arm under that umbrella and kissed her.
You shiver and sip cold coffee out of a paper cup as you unwrap wax paper revealing a soggy tuna salad sandwich. A combo preventing you from ever swimming again. A promise: no matter how hard it will rain you will burst forward, spinning the umbrella above your head at a slight angle backwards, water concealing your lonely tears.
photo by George F. Mobley
'This way, up these stairs, without delay, take my hand'.
Her hand was in his in a heartbeat, and they were running in step, footfall echoing on marble.
'In here', he said, looking back at her, noticing the frown. 'It's ok', he assured.
She smiled shyly, not quite making eye contact.
'This is the window I was telling you about. The portal of Spring'. He looked at his watch.
'We're in time'. He stood behind her then, and nudged her towards the floor-to-ceiling window. 'This is your place in the Sun', he proclaimed, in an unexpected sonorous tone, startling her a bit. She shivered.
It was 12:57. The sun crossed the vernal equinox heading northward, and at that precise moment sunlight swept into the room like a spotlight. He heard a sharp intake of breath from the girl. "The heart of the Sun bowed to her where she stood," is what he scribbled with swift hand into his sketchbook later that evening, by candlelight at his roll-top desk.
'And now - one additional minute in the morning, and one precious extra minute at night. Just for us, don't you see?'
She was silent, her eyes closed, chin up towards the glorious rays of fire.
'And those dreadful five o'clock sunsets are long gone', he said, wrapping his arms around her, pushing hair away with his face, a kiss on the back of her neck.
She held up five fingers. 'Long gone,' she whispered.
photo by Kelsey Hannah
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