Never Without Her Umbrella
The local tour guide believes in leather boots with wide toes. Sturdy soles. Protein for breakfast. Small water bottle. Plentiful fountains. The tourists lag behind her like wayward ducks. She holds her yellow umbrella high, as if to balance on a tightrope, as if the umbrella itself is a wobbly sun. She believes in the sun, in the tightrope, in the collapsibility of all things. Even history. Facts are less important than the fabricated hope of window boxes and geraniums, white curtains billowing at the windows, pennants stretched building to building across pedestrian ways. She believes most in stories. If she speaks them enough, will the heroic townsfolk come true? But maybe no one’s listening. Because nothing conquers the tourists’ bladders, their need for frequent stops, their incessant interest in snacks and souvenirs and how long they will have to shop. After the tour is over, she permits herself a smoke, standing on the river walk, the afternoon a promise of laundry and rain.
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