A “found” umbrella
by Isobel Cunningham

My father took me to lunch one spring day when I was sixteen. In the restaurant he smelled the wine, took a sip, declared it “very nice,” and poured me a glass. I looked older than my years and, anyway, no one would have dreamed of challenging my father, of asking him why he was giving wine to a minor. He had an air of authority and of good-natured charm that carried all before him.

As we came out, a few drops of rain fell. He looked at my light dress. How could we wander around under dark clouds threatening a solid downpour?

The renowned Windsor Hotel loomed ahead and he suddenly caught my arm and directed me up the steps.

We approached the main desk.

“Hello,” he said with his cordial smile. “Has anyone turned in a black umbrella?”

“Just a moment, sir.” The clerk retreated to a mysterious back room and soon emerged with three large black umbrellas.

“Is one of these yours?”

“Ah there we are! That’s what I was looking for. Thank you, young man.”

I followed my father out of the hotel, slipped my arm under his and looked up into his face.

“Did you really lose that umbrella, Dad?”

“Well, no. You’ll notice I never actually said I had lost an umbrella.”

A long pause before he pronounced in his rather round-about Irish way.

“Remember, there are a finite number of umbrellas in this world and they are meant to be shared round. If someone wanted to borrow your umbrella, you’d lend it to them, wouldn’t you?”

Something to think about as I walked close to my father, sheltered from the rain. After all, there were still two umbrellas left in the Lost and Found.

IMAGE: “Umbrellas” by Fernand Leger (1881-1955).


NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is the second prompt from Silver Birch Press that evoked a memory of my father. He was quite a character. It is a challenge to “tell the tale,” as he would put it, in 300 words while capturing his mercurial, charming, and unpredictable character. As a counterbalance to his unorthodox attitude to private property, I had my mother and the nuns who educated me.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: At 17 with my mother, the other moral compass.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Isobel Cunningham writes poetry and short fiction. She has been published in Silver Birch Press online and Rat’s Ass Review online. She published her first book of poetry in 2015 entitled Northern Compass (available on Amazon) and she writes a blog She is a docent at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and finds inspiration in works of arts and in nature.