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there is always something (why I shoot film)

There are maybe ten shots left on the roll. Outside the metro, a collection of pigeons sit on minuscule ledges above two old men. They talk as all old men do, with operatic waves of their hands, sour expressions, belly laughs, eventually scratching their chins as they stare off at nothing in particular. I am pretending to take pictures of something near them, then swing across when they are not looking to shoot a few frames. At one point I surrender to the afternoon and move on.

And now, the courtyard that leads to the film lab. A great old building rests here, a school of architecture where students mill around dressed in black sucking on cigarettes with giant portfolios tucked under their arms. A young man approaches me. I am ready to tell him I have no idea what he is saying, but he wants to know where the film lab is. I jut my chin, telling him the door is just beyond a few bushes. He nods his thanks.

There are screens set up in a jagged line, sheathed in filthy white plastic to …

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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