Between the weeklong mentoring retreat and the four-day money migration futurecasting conference, Temple had only one day left for work, and perhaps because of that pending workload, his adventure in idol worship began that day, at a train platform on a cloudless morning when his eye chanced upon a simple umbrella, very tightly rolled, in the hand of a confident woman. Uncollapsible was this umbrella, with a turned wooden handle and a ring-and-button closure pulled snug; unremarkable in itself, it could have been made yesterday, or the day after the first rain, but it fixated him and prejudiced him to favor its bearer whom he knew immediately from her nail polish to be a woman but who was otherwise, except for what he could deduce from the fabric of her sleeve, the smooth skin of her wrist and the profile of her watch face with its jeweled winding stem, still a mystery. Without making a conscious choice that first morning, he focused for thirty minutes on the knob at the head of the umbrella handle and the way she pressed her thumb against it during the ride into town, taking stock of the rest of her only peripherally. He wanted to be her. He wanted his shoes to make the sounds her shoes made as they strode to the stairs and for his thigh to curve just as hers curved against the seat, to walk with purpose where and as she walked and to know just as she knew that it would rain on her way home. When she got up, he made her stop his stop and timed his departure to reach the door when she did, thinking that somehow they might merge if they got off the train together. It was his first of many such mistakes.

Copyright © June 08, 2008 David Hodges

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