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no invitation

We are at a 3 year old's birthday party in the back room of a cafe. Music is pumping from a tiny speaker. Balloon animals are popping, and waving in the air. A man in a yellow dinosaur costume dances wildly. Parents snap pictures with satisfied smiles on their faces.

A little girl approaches gingerly and stands in the doorway, straying from her parents somewhere inside the restaurant. She cannot be more than three. It must be hard to ignore all of the noise coming from this room packed with celebration. There is a perfect little pony tail at the back of her head. She hesitates, as one foot poises in the air and then rests back down. How to understand that she was not invited. How to understand the laughter, the loose jumping bodies, the presents piled high on the window. None of this connects to her. There is a little plate of food waiting for her back there, in the quiet restaurant. Maybe a warm bowl of soup, thick with noodles. I watch her for some time.

That night, her empty e…

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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