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there is always something (why I shoot film)

There are maybe ten shots left on the roll. Outside the metro, a collection of pigeons sit on minuscule ledges above two old men. They talk as all old men do, with operatic waves of their hands, sour expressions, belly laughs, eventually scratching their chins as they stare off at nothing in particular. I am pretending to take pictures of something near them, then swing across when they are not looking to shoot a few frames. At one point I surrender to the afternoon and move on.

And now, the courtyard that leads to the film lab. A great old building rests here, a school of architecture where students mill around dressed in black sucking on cigarettes with giant portfolios tucked under their arms. A young man approaches me. I am ready to tell him I have no idea what he is saying, but he wants to know where the film lab is. I jut my chin, telling him the door is just beyond a few bushes. He nods his thanks.

There are screens set up in a jagged line, sheathed in filthy white plastic to …

the red cup

The sky is not fully dark at seven now. Hard clouds are coughing from double smokestacks past the river. The cat tries to knock me over, starving in the cold morning air. E is asleep in a perfect cocoon of cartoon sheets, clutching a stuffed dog named Katya.

I make coffee without turning the kitchen light on. The cat eats noisily as I wait for the familiar, hoarse voice of the little moka. I put sugar at the bottom of the cup, and don't mind it's not clean.

I splash milk in, and sit on the window's edge, looking down at the covered fountain in the center of the courtyard. As I drink from the cup, I smell something unfamiliar. I touch my fingers to my nose for a moment - and realize this cup was used on Saturday for our little dinner party. New friends had visited, with a daughter to play with E, and fresh pastries, with a bottle of red wine and the bread I had forgotten to buy, with an unattached woman.

It was her perfume on my red coffee cup, a sort of gift she had left behind. I closed my eyes, imagining her hands resting on the table, how she hid behind her hair, her chin pinned to her chest.

Breathing in her perfume, I drank in the morning light and the sweet coffee and smiled to myself.

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