… a feast of photography and prose.
The man kept an umbrella by the door. It had a heavy wooden handle and a deep green canopy. It was a constant companion in his excursions.
Carrying the umbrella was a practice he’d kept since the day his wife died, the day the streets flooded and the leaves labored under heavy drops. He’d held the umbrella through the burial. When he leaned down to kiss her casket, the umbrella silenced the sharpness of water hitting wood. He returned from the service and leaned the umbrella by the doorframe. He fixed himself a cup of tea. He sat and thought awhile.
The next day it rained. The umbrella was there. Convenient, he thought. He went out for tea, and when he returned, he leaned it against the doorframe. He fixed himself a pipe. He sat and thought of her a long while.
It was sunny for a week thereafter. But the sun is so strong, he thought. He grabbed the wooden handle, stepped outside, and harbored himself under the deep green canopy. And he thought of her.
The umbrella accompanied him on his excursions for some time. It was trustworthy and faithful, to have and to hold, in rain or shine. Then one day his daughter visited, and with her, his grandson. The boy jumped up and down and tugged at the man’s hand. “To the park! To the park!” A flash of shorts and shoes escaped onto the sidewalk. The boy dragged his toy boat on the ground and it protested in a tangled staccato as stern and bow met concrete. The man grabbed his umbrella and followed quickly, interrupting the press in his pants with a quick stride.
The sun shone at the park. The boy placed the boat in the water by the pond’s edge. The man was holding his umbrella. When he leaned over the water, his shadow softened the sun’s glint and he saw his own face and the gleaming face of the boy, framed by the giant green canopy. The boy saw the shadow and looked up at him. He laughed and splashed the water with his hands, sending it onto their shoes. The toy boat began to drift away. The boy cried aloud. The man started and flung the umbrella, dropped to his knees and reached out over the pond. He snatched the boat from the waves. The boy was delighted.
When all were safely to port his daughter called them to come for lunch. The boy was holding the boat, and his shoes were wet. The man scooped him up and turned away from the pond. The boy pointed over the man’s shoulder. “Grandpa, the umbrella.” The man glanced back.
“Leave it,” he said. “It’s too much to carry.”