Riding up the clock tower in an elevator at noon
out of all the tourists
he turns to the little girl
who is not allowed to suck her thumb
but who would if she could manage it without a slap,
“Would you like to see the bells up close?”
“No.” she shakes her head and buries her face in her mother’s dress,
and he opens the brass gate on the elevator that has stopped next to the enormous bells
that are swinging and chiming out
the soft little hairs on the smooth face of the little girl lie flat and
water in her tear ducts is forced out
while the bells swing threateningly close to the elevator.
Everyone is speechless.
As they resume their assent up to the observation deck
everyone is laughing and some are telling her
she is a very lucky girl to have such an opportunity and yet
that is what it feels like
every time a stranger speaks to her.

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