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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…

the little prophet and the flowers

My hat blows off in the wind. E is in hysterics as I chase it across the sidewalk, her shadow stretching long down Kutuzovsky. An ice cream melting in long drips across her mitten waves in the air as she impersonates me. The noise of the traffic around us is defeaning. I squeeze her hand, keeping the other on the brim of the hat as the wind whips around us. The flowers tucked under my arm are wrapped in cellophane, bending against my chest, flopping back across my elbows. I hope they will survive the trip.

E tries to tell me something, but I can't hear her. It is always this loud here, but the sun is shining. It is a warmer walk on this side of the street.

I turn us onto the bridge that crosses the river, a plastic covered walkway with expensive cafes that serve terrible espresso and a collection of bizarre gift stores I have never seen anyone inside. We stare at the river below, now only half frozen. The sun bangs back at us. It is quiet here. I peel her mittens off.

"I was trying to tell you about the wires." She said.
"What wires?" I ask.
"The ones that were between you and mom." She adds, then taking a thoughtful lick.
"Ah, ok." I say, waiting for her to explain this.
"See, when you lived together there were a lot of wires." She says. "But now there are like one - or none."
I nod once, slowly.
"And the wires are like you fighting. When you were being nice and she was mean to you and then you were fighting." She says. "They were that wires."
I smooth her hair from her face.
"And the fighting is because of the wires. So if the wires are going away, it is less." She says, shrugging her shoulders.
"Got it." I say.
"But the wires are from a flower under the ground." She says, looking up at me.
"Inside the ground?" I ask.
"No!" She says. "UNDER the ground. It grows deep. It does not have sun."
I sigh.
I squeeze her hand once.
"And how does the flower grow?" I ask.
"The flower is BAD. The flower makes the wires that make the fights." She says, almost frustrated.
"And who can see the flower?" I ask.
"Only me." She says, relaxing a bit. "And my people. Like if you have robot bones like me, you can know it."
She is silent for a moment.
"But it is a secret, and you cannot tell no one about it unless you ask me first." She says, crunching on the final shape of the cone.

"Deal." I say.
We make a pinky swear.

"If you want, I can make magic and you can have robot bones." She tells me. "They will protect you from the wires."
I smile once, nod yes.

She hands me the last bite of the cone to hold, and stands up. Shuffling around in her snow pants, her hat cocked back on her head, she waves her hands in circles. I see her dirty fingernails. I smell the street on us, dry and foul, then the bitter coffee they make here. Her eyes grow wide. She points at me for a few frozen seconds. She mumbles some made-up words.
"Close your eyes." She says, leaning forward and whispering in my ear.
I do.
She does something else, then leans into my ear again, her mouth breathing heavily as she whispers dramatically. "OK, you have robot bones now."
I stand up, trying to find my balance.
"NO." She says. "No one can know. They are secret robot bones."
I slump back to being myself. I wave once to her, to stand up. She tosses the final point of the cone into her mouth with a satisfied flourish. I pull her coat around her shoulders, adjust her scarf. We start off.
"Pop." She says, dragging me to a stop.
I look and see the flowers are still on the bench.
She laughs and laughs at me.

A few days later we are walking home. The snow is finally melting.

"You know?" She says, out of nowhere. "There is another flower I forgot to tell you about."
"Oh realllllly?" I say, showing my robot walk for a second.
"It is in the sky." She says.
I look up.
"It is about love."


Annie said…
Dare I suggest that your pinkie swears don't mean much?
Rabbit blogger said…
later, she gave me permission to share this story.
Mely said…
More than a prophet a Philosopher Beautiful E.

Have a great week, spring is around the corner.
Thank God, M., for the text BELOW her photo. Thank God, it's not all underground and that she also sees the sun and sky and love.
Omgrrrl said…
Yup. No matter the circumstance, our kids guide our way. Sometimes they make the most sense.

Parenting doesn't get "easier". It just gets different.

And there is a comfort in that.

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