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Not me, her

In 1987, I found myself trying to write about a high school girlfriend that had been molested by her father when she was a child. I was 19 years old, struggling to find my way through a screenwriting assignment about delivering character. The idea was to describe messy young love between two Sid and Nancy want-to-be's. But that failed, as I could not stomach oversimplifying her complicated past, events that shaped her life as a 16 year old with a mohawk, a smart mouth, a lingering stare. I understood that I had to start at the very beginning.

No one wanted to hear the story. When it was my turn to read in class, it even came to be that some of the other students asked to stand in the hallway before they heard another description of what happened in that lonely little house in the middle of nowhere. I was trying, and failing, and trying again to get things right, to explain how this happened, how it could happen to this girl, how this man found his way to acts of selfishness and d…

the electro-train from Domodedovo

Most of the week was spent in the airport, filming a project. It was odd to make my way there by car or taxi with no ticket to double check in my pocket, no searching my memory to make sure I had packed a toothbrush, or remembered gifts.

The hush of the duty free shops was punctuated by announcements I could ignore. The fresh smell of perfume tests. The people running, their bags bobbling around them. The people with hours to kill, reading the fine print on labels. And me, tucked into a corner – clicking hundreds of time-lapse frames, sitting on my feet.

It was raining one of those days, and there was no car to take me back to the city. I was to take the express electro-train instead.

The platform was almost empty, except for a woman in a black and white checked raincoat and her tiny daughter, all in pink. The woman clutched the child close to her, as the rain pounded down around us, and a damp wind flipped her dress around. She looked like a character from a film, with the train cars stretching into the horizon behind her, with the great ragged canopy of steel above us.

The doors opened, and we rushed inside.

The lights were off, and the train would sit here for at least 20 minutes before we left. The woman checked her face in a tiny compact, and searched in her purse for something for the little girl to play with. As they did not have any luggage, I decided they must have come to the airport to see someone off. Returning by train would save them at least 1,200 rubles. Maybe they had arrived in Moscow unexpectedly, to go to a hospital and see a dying loved one, with no time to pack.

The woman stared past me, her dark hair formed into a perfect modern beehive. The swirling checkerboard pattern of the black and white jacket framed her face. The blonde girl laughed and jumped, trying to catch my attention. I looked at her now, wondering if this woman was her mother or maybe a nanny or an aunt.

The rain dribbled down the windows.

The lights came on. A woman rolled a cart with potato chips and juice boxes through the car. She picked up newspapers from empty seats as she made her way. No one bought anything.

The woman held the little girl close to her, rubbing their noses together and laughing. I wanted to take a picture of them, but decided not to.

The train lurched forward.

We saw fields littered with purple and white wildflowers, and eventually the city.

Comments

The Expatresse said…
No one ever buys anything. Once I asked how much she wanted for a bottle of water, and it was something outrageous. So I declined.
Rabbit blogger said…
the film is for an international brand - -think discounted, tax-free perfume.

i agree about basic overprcing. i almost bought my daughter an Alonka chocolate bar for 120 rub! (normally 20).
The Expatresse said…
Flew to the US out of Domodedovo on Wednesday and thought about all this then . . . did not buy anything from the Vending Lady. WAS surprised that they now make announcements on the train in English, but the voice/accent is that of a Vauxhall car TV campaign . . . very odd.

Now I have just pegged myself as a class snob, and I'm not even British.

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