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every other man

The light outside the main entrance to our building has gone out again. The heavy metal door swings wide as I pull a hat down over my ears. In the darkness there are maybe twenty teenagers standing still. My boot scrapes across the ground, slowing down. Their hands in pockets, shoulders hunched, I look for a space to pass between them. A voice appears, saying hello in English, with an obvious accent. I am all instinct, sayingpivyet as I pass, not looking back, wondering who said this. There was a boy that was an extra in Blackbetty that lives in our building, but he is too young, too short for it to have been him.

I look back, navigating the puddles in the street. It does not make any sense.

N is with V, making their way home. I meet them, pulling V into my arms as she chatters about her day, about dry leaves and princesses, about her grandmother's apartment and what she ate there. We are going back home, and I try to explain the odd collection that stands outside. As we pass th…

close to Garfield, off of Prospect Park

E is asking me a lot of questions these days, like what is inside the moon. Walking home from school, clutching my hand as she slips on the ice every few meters we discuss astrology, chemistry and the ingredients for tiramisu. She likes to ask me what I was like when I was four, or five or seven.

My brother and I had a babysitter named Adrianne, a student of my father's from one of his drawing classes. She had long, straight dark hair and a magnificent nose in the center of her face, as I liked to think of it. Adrianne smelled of lemons, and fresh soap. She knew how to make the best shake-n-bake chicken, and her brother wore giant bellbottom sailor pants, with about a million buttons on them. We played a lot with wooden toys and marbles.

She turned the living room into a great white cloth-draped fortress with us one long afternoon, and we watched Yellow Submarine in the soft light inside it, on the tiny TV in the corner.

We left Brooklyn when I was five. On our last afternoon together she brought us to a wet piece of sidewalk. We forced our hands into the fresh cement, then scrawling our initials with a bottle cap. In my imagination, this tiny artifact still exists, somewhere close to Garfield, off of Prospect Park.

When I told this to E, she stopped in the street, her breath forming wet clouds around her. She stared at me, fiercely.

"It's still there, Pop." She said.

She rested her mittened hand on my shoulder.
She nodded once.
I nodded back.
She let out a deep breath.

Later, we made tiramisu.


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