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Hey, Lyosha

There are prison tattoos on the backs of his hands. Faded, blotchy shapes and a finger that jabs at a phone. "Hey, Lyosha!" He shouts, as every face on the bus swings to him. There is no answer, no voice on the other side. "Lyosha." He says again, then stares angrily out the windows. I step on someone's foot by accident, apologizing quickly. The young man waves his hand as if to say I did not need to say anything. The man with the tattoos sips from a giant cup of soda from KFC that is balanced on the empty seat next to him.

We pass a hotel we used to live next to, where expensive escorts are ferried in and out like yachts in a harbor. There is a fresh line of flags snapping in a low wind, and an American one is curiously absent. Plenty of the businessmen behind those windows are from the states.

The man brandishes the phone and hands it to the young man in front of me. I did not see that one coming. The young man wipes invisible dust from it, a reserved frown …

the little prophet

The snow had cocooned itself in filthy swirls around the streets and pathways. We trudge in the dim light, careful of the ice beneath the surface. I slide wildly, waving my arms around and E squeezes my hand tightly. I do not fall. She laughs at me, a bubble of happiness as stoic faces pass us on all sides.

One of the strays trots next to us, a German Shepherd mix. It noses our feet. E grows scared. I tell her to put her other hand in her pocket. The dog is glued to the sides of our knees, bumping against us. Her fear grows. I stop for a moment and it disappears into the crowd.


"I have an invisible doctor." E announces as we walk home from school.
"Oh really." I say, wondering if we are almost out of milk.
"He protects me." E continues. "And only I can see him. When I was born in one minute he was there and he never leaves me."
"OK." I say, fascinated by the way her mind works.
"And he only protects YOU?" I ask.
"Yes." She explains. "And only my people know about him."
"Your people?" I ask.
"Yes. Vika and you and my friends from school." She says.
"And N?" I ask.
She twists her mouth around. She nods a big yes.
"But not Mom." She says, defiantly. "She is not my people."
She breathes in deeply.
"If I clap three times he will fly down to me." She says. "And he is the one who put the computer in my brain and gave me robot bones."
We walk in silence for a bit.
"Do other people have their own invisible doctors?" I ask.
"NO." She says quickly. "Only me."
"Ah." I say, guiding us past the crowd in front of the railway station. We walk in the gutter now.
"And if you don't believe me, you are not my people." She said.


That night I watch her sleeping as I work late, the computer an unblinking eye on the other side of the room. The place smells of empty coffee cups and half-sucked lollipops. She has nightmares. She turns in her sleep. Last week she told me the secret name she calls her mother - Lepit - the maker of sculptures from plastilene - a moldable, temporary clay that never keeps its shape.

I sit next to her, holding her tiny hand as it instinctually grabs mine. I sing to her, the same melody I sang to her when she was one minute old, washing her tiny body in that blue plastic basin as the nurses gave me some space.

Comments

Omgrrrl said…
Big Funny Kid had a companion named Mento Mento. Mento Mento lived mostly in the garden. Some days Mento Mento was with us. Some days he was not. Some days I had to serve Mento Mento dinner. Some days he was only there for lunch.

One day I asked if Mento Mento was going to join us for something or another.

Big Funny Kid said vry matter of factly: "No. He moved to Africa."

"Africa? That seems like a far way away!" I commented.

"That is where his people are."
Mother Theresa said…
That's very cute..and a sweet ending. Is the expression "my people" to refer to those who see things your way common in Russia? I once had Russian friend who used to say that, and that's why I ask.
Annie said…
She must know her guardian angel. An angel with a funny doctorish personality, a "fixer".

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