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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 …

albino fruit

N is still in bed. E is at her mother's today. This is the best time to write, when the rooms are empty and still. We cleaned all day Saturday. I emptied three boxes of old toys, finding bits of food and god knows what as I reached their bottoms. Tiny doll clothes here, art supplies here, E's little guitar here, legos in these two boxes. We were Spring cleaning even if fresh snow was falling. The windows open, the air almost salty we pressed through the piles until there were none. N in my old CBGBs tshirt, sweeping bits of plastilene up with a furious expression - her cleaning face, I call it.

And now, a house with clean floors, with order. A house tamed into warmth and open spaces that do not hurt to walk across in the middle of the night.

The hyacinth lost its flowers. I saved a handful of shriveled blossoms for some reason in an envelope.

This is the cleansing breath. Spring begins today, but I do not feel it - I know it can't snow much longer.  These are the days just before E's birthday, when I realize we have made it another year together. When I drink in the changes late at night in the kitchen with just the stove light on, staring into a tiny glass of red wine. 

I bought a pair of Italian juice glasses in New York two summers ago, when I was still living in that apartment. I kept them wrapped in brown paper, tucked in the back of a cabinet. They were a blind wish, a promise to myself and E. I planned to unwrap them the first night I got out of there, and pour some juice for E in the other one. We would make a toast. It seemed impossible. I had thirty dollars in my pocket, my bank accounts emptied by E's mother. I did not think of those two glasses all of the time. I got caught up in the struggle to put a pile of money together. And then, looking for a pen, or some book I needed, my fingers would rest on that brown paper for a moment. 

My fingertips would relax and stop grasping in the darkness. 

We did drink juice from them a few months later. We still do. E holds on to their significance. N loves to turn them in her hands, the art deco flowers curling around in black and pink and green. 

No surprise that I bought two more glasses the last time I was in New York and presented them to N. A laugh jumped out of her mouth when she opened them. We used them right away. 

She is breathing perfectly, one foot extending from beneath the covers. 

Last night there was a giant moon in the night sky, hanging over the river like an albino fruit, rare and luminous.


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