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Family Circle 2010 Fiction Contest: "The Ravens Are Leaving the Tower"

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Harrods Department Store is packed. I'm pushing my way through the front door when a security guard pulls me aside.

"You can't have that giant pack in here," he says.

I tighten the straps of my bag a little tighter.

"Take it to the coat check," he says, looking at the green canvas bag in disgust.

I want to leave. I want to explain myself, but I blink back tears and follow his order. I clutch my passport, money, and camera to my chest as I weave my way through the Food Hall. I order lemon at the Gelato counter, though I hate lemon, but it's Eliza's favorite.

Going to Harrods on an April day is like going to the mall before Christmas. And not that tiny mall on Harrison Street. The big one, out by the airport. I had lemon gelato, it was sweet. I wish you—I scratch that out with my pen and write, It wasn't that good. Maurizio's is better.

I wander through the toy department, past rows and rows of stuffed animals. Eliza's room is full of them; she already has two turtles, an elephant, and a trio of bears. I have no idea what possesses people to buy children's toys for a grown woman, but Eliza displays them proudly. They were better than flowers; she'd said when I complained about our neighbor, who'd brought over a drunk-looking Teddy bear wearing a t-shirt that says, "Feel Better Soon!"

Outside on the sidewalk, I throw my hand up for a cab.

The line for the London Eye strings around a giant carousel. I don't have much time. I'm directed into a pod with a family. They don't say "hello," or ask where I am from, so I sit on the bench inside and press my forehead against the thick plastic, as we raise high above the River Thames. The muted navy sky blends into the ornate buildings across the river. The wheel turns, and I'm on the ground again.

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