Flash: A Father Stays

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The carnival crowds allowed anonymity Michael grasped with both hands. Later tonight finding a place for him and his daughter to sleep would bring back the reality of being homeless and refugees. But tonight, for a couple hours, lights, sounds, food, and people brushed against them with life instead of avoiding them, refusing to make eye contact.

He reminded himself he wasn’t a failure. Maria was safe; she had a parent. They were a long way from sheltering in subway tunnels while Russians bombed the future out of their country.

Someone had dropped a half-eaten street taco into an overflowing dust bin. The crowds parted easily as people glanced up at Maria on his shoulders. Deep pockets stored the still-wrapped street tacos, and he grabbed a burger for himself. A closed water bottle lay half-buried near the top. Cracking it open, Michael sniffed it – clean.

Full bellies tonight should make sleeping easier.

Above his head, his daughter giggled as some street performers started dancing.

(words 164 – first published 6/19/2023)

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