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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 …

where you get that sugar from?



The city is waking up. Awkward and naked, as if the elastic waistband from underwear marks its hips. Mascara smudged, trash cans are on their sides rocking slightly in a low wind that comes up from the river. The snow is gone here. Forgotten mittens and store receipts, dog shit and rotting leaves. Everything awry.

I don't like sleeping alone on foreign beds, no matter how soft the covers.

I miss you.

I wander in darkness, headlights blooming in my tired eyes. I walk in the gutter, not the sidewalk. The Empire State Building is white, magnificent above me for a little while. I feel a bit like Brando in Last Tango. I want to chew some gum and stick it under a railing. Some mark that says I was back for a few days. Yes, lost. Yes, foolish as ever.


And now it is raining. A fat lady is running for the bus, a smile pasted across her face. The driver waits for her, umbrella crashing into her coat as she disappears inside.

Men wear heavy perfume, and I smell Polo, Ralph Lauren as they pass, thick and mouthy in between the raindrops. There is construction down here. Workers in slick yellow suits are digging a great hole on Fulton Street.
"Yo, Steve." On yells from below. "Yo, Steeeeeeeeeve."

Yes, I am back to eat great bowls of soup alone. To gaze up at the fog hiding the rooftops. To buy birthday presents for my little girl. Maybe a jar of maple syrup.

A lumpy fellow is dressed as the Statue of Liberty, dancing around on a particularly wet corner, passing out flyers. Behind him, a new place that serves the best bacon egg and cheese I have had in a long time. Music is playing, John Lee Hooker.

Sugar,
Sugar Mama,
Sugar all over this town.
Sugar Mama,
Where you get your sugar from?

Comments

Mely said…
Please do not forget to buy Canned Chipotles in your way back to Russia. :) I do not if you have room in your suitcase for them to go alone with the many presents for the lovely and sweet E.

I read somewhere you like them.

So bad you are 3 hours drive from here. I will invite you over for authentic homestyle Mexican.

Have a safe trip.
Annie said…
Brilliant.

You can bring a place to life in words like nobody's business.

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