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you are not there

We are taking the little one for a ride on her new sled. It is bright orange, with a fuzzy black and white seat cover to keep her extra warm. Her tiny hands in tiny gloves hold the sides as tight as she can. I pull her down a path, shouting "woohooo" and then she replies "woohoo". N's turn is next, pulling her more schoolgirl than mother for a few minutes. There are other parents with children on sleds passing us. Their eyes straight forward, faces completely blank they slip by in silence. I flash a smile to them, and they do not even look at me. I am not there, just another tree leaning towards the stream that runs below.

There are ducks still, flapping around the brackish water and we throw pieces of stale bread to them. I start to think, not about the complete absence of smiles in this culture. I stopped asking about that long ago, told over and again that smiles are reserved for home, behind closed doors. But I wonder, for the children -  these wiggling bu…

Studencheskaya!

E sang in the cold rain today on the way to detskie sad. Dark and colorless, the low sky did not stop us from being silly. Men raked leaves into piles with handmade brooms - basically, twigs bunched together and wrapped in string. We pretended to be a train, and E was driving, calling out all of the stops.

“Studencheskaya!” she crowed, kicking wet leaves from our path.

“Parki!” She shouted.

Inside, the children were changing into dry clothes, and making a line at the door. They would all walk together to bring breakfast up to the classroom. The halls smelled of warm milk.

My face in the wet wind, I crossed the river. Fresh pastries thumping around in my pocket, I smelled both a sort of dread and a sense of possibilities. The world seemed to be wrapping around this solitary moment, each car splashing past me, each yellow leaf turning under my heel, each toy in each window, each face braced against the same wind.

A dark Monday like so many, but somehow my feet are still dry.

Comments

The Expatresse said…
Someone left a crown of yellow maple leaves on a car in front of our building. I saw a woman wearing on this weekend in Suzdal . . . never saw that before (like a dandelion necklace), but now saw it twice. Gotta learn how to make me one.
Stefanya said…
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