An Old Umbrella By Richard Luftig Propped against the bench of the bus stop for weeks, no, make that months. She’s pretty sure that no one has taken or even moved it to a more convenient spot. It may have been red once, now faded almost to white, but still stately, even with its peeling, wooden handle: wooden, not plastic, like those cheap knock-offs you find in the dollar store on sale for eighty-nine cents. She’s been tempted from time to time to claim it, take it home, but really, what good is a tall umbrella to anyone in this city, where it rains twice a year and then maybe for twenty minutes. Every day she sees it as she waits for the bus to take her downtown; forty-five minutes when traffic is good, ninety when she needs to leave her apartment during rush hour to be on time to clean rooms and make up forty beds at the three-star, Yelp rated motel. Once, when there was no one else on the bench to see her, she reached out, and without popping it open, felt its metal ribs, half-expecting to feel a regular heartbeat at its core. Strong ribs, strong enough to keep a life intact, never let it pass away, abandon you, leave you to fend for yourself. It was then that the temptation was greatest, to take it, make it her own—who would miss it anyway— finders, keepers. But she knows what Frank would have said: Who the hell wants an umbrella large enough for two, when you hardly ever even need the one propped up in your closet, unused and far too big for one?