Black Umbrella, White Kimono

As I walked across the street to the shop where I got my coffee every morning, I saw them.

At first, I noticed only their black umbrellas. They reminded me of the heads of flowers, only turned upside down. Then I noticed the people under the umbrellas. They were dressed formally, the woman in a white kimono and the man in a business suit. It was such an incongruous sight that I stopped and stared.

As people walked past, they stopped and stared, too. But the couple never budged. I couldn’t see their faces, which were completely obscured by their umbrellas.

After staring at them for a while, waiting to see if they’d do something, I gave up and walked into the shop.

“Hey, stranger,” the owner greeted me.”The usual?”

“Yeah, Leslie. Listen, about those two across the street -“

She placed a steaming cup of coffee on the counter and sighed. “Oh, that poor Japanese couple! It’s so sad – their daughter was killed in a car accident on that street last night. I guess every culture has their own way of grieving.”

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