Sidewalk Voyager

The boy couldn’t hold the umbrella upright. Or wouldn’t. The nuances in the plops of raindrops against the canopy as it spun about was enough to keep the boy’s attention. It was quite the spectacle to his parents. It would twist and wobble sideways, frontways, backways, and upways. His parents giggled on as he flung rain in all directions, his arms buckling under the stress. When finally the umbrella tipped forward just enough to lose its balance in the boy’s hands, the boy stumbled to catch it. As his feet left the ground, the umbrella revolved beneath him, balancing on the flooded sidewalk with the boy in tow if only for a moment before both capsized beneath the surface.

His parents stood in place, waiting patiently for his return as they admired the bubbles popping up between the plop of each raindrop. They stared as rain rushed down their hair and their faces, down their arms and legs until it slid into place around the calm void where their son had been, no pops or plops to be found.

The boy thought he might stay there, upside down. He’d seen stranger things. And heard them too. But listen close, a voice seemed to whisper. Bubbles falling from below came popping against his umbrella, nudging it out of his hands. Every pop, each different from the last, sang the boy a quiet lullaby as the umbrella danced below him. Before he knew it he was being cradled in the canopy again, resting on the ceiling for a second or two as the pops turned back into plops.

The parents resumed their walk. His father held a rather large umbrella above the three of them, spinning it between his fingers and whistling a low tune. And his mother, her socks soaked from one misstep, hummed along as the boy slept in her arms.

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