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the empty

The fat girl as they call her, came to school with a hypodermic needle in her backpack. It may have been to defend herself, it may have been to instigate something. She comes from a broken home and this is her second or third school. E steers clear of her, and the bullies she tangles with. It was never understood  - how things began, who threw the first insult, the first punch, the first grabbed book but the end is a chronic cycle of violence. At one point, the girl's mother got the police involved and this was seen as offensive, a step too far. The police did not resolve anything so it was all just a lot of saber rattling. That is the most common sound here. The empty threat.

Last week, there was a sobrani, sort of a cross between a parent-teacher conference and a school meeting. I was busy, so E went by herself and took notes. Five minutes in she messaged me, that I was wise not to be there. Nothing about this girl was going to be resolved.
"Boys will be boys" was all …

Christmas card from Kurskaya

Christmas brought spinning tops and Yorkshire pudding at an expat party on Kurskaya. A teenage boy messed with a gameboy on the couch with the same expression boys make all over the world. We splashed whiskey into plastic cups as our children sat on our laps. We poured gravy, asked for seconds, and shared stories about old girlfriends. In the company of expats, all men, I felt like I was back in the East Village for a little while.

We traded obscure music references, and then more obscure literary ones. There were knowing smiles, cigarettes smoked in the kitchen, one bottle gone now. Koko cuts her own hair into severe bangs and beats the hell out of her older brother, but plays like an angel with little E. They spin a top and think if they blow on it very hard, it will keep going.

Ah, the joy of speaking English for a few hours after the impossible backwards guessing game of Russian. By the end of the day, my tongue thick in my mouth I tend to understand and remember nothing of this dumbfounding language.

And all at once, E is asleep on my shoulder and we take a taxi home. The splashy lights and blinking trees swing past us, as there is no traffic at this hour. And here, our castle lit from below - casting a great shadow into the clouds.


Comments

Anonymous said…
You're writing continues mezmerize. What along strange trip it is. Keep on keeping on.

R

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