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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 …

the Sunday of forgiveness


Those five days in New York are far behind me now. A familiar view of the river, the smell of bacon and black coffee - all distant. A ghost. I am not sure it exists once I land and drag my bags home then fight to get E back. All at once she is sneezing, running a low fever and then a high one. Within hours I am cooking chicken soup, wrapping her in blankets. Presents for her and N are scattered across my luggage, some opened and celebrated, some not yet.

The snow falls all night in giant flat discs. New drifts to hide the car tires. Yes, warm enough to turn the black ice to a slurry of mud that pastes itself to boots and the bottoms of your jeans. I sleep in shifts as E wakes up asking for more glasses of water, or just to be held. She can't find sleep until morning comes. She will miss the party today for Women's Day. She will not wear clean white tights, or wear a flower in her hair. She will curl up on the couch next to me instead, playing with a new set of legos, new dolls, maybe chew on a strawberry licorice if she is up to it.


The days unfold. The chicken soup is almost finished. E is better now. I make us pancakes with maple syrup. It is Maslenitsa, a week-long festival of pancakes. Butter, eggs, flour, milk - all will be put aside for Lent soon. Maslenitsa is a Spring celebration, but it is still winter albeit a few degrees warmer than a few weeks ago.


It is good to be home. I am missed when I am away. N is her usual self - warm, gentle, tender as ever. I cook us great bowls of pasta we eat late at night. It is a long holiday weekend, and all of the museums are closed. Nothing to do but watch movies late into the night and sleep late. Nothing to do but find warmth as the snow sprinkles down making tiny noises against the balcony windows. We leave them open a bit for some fresh air.


On Sunday night, the last night of Maslenitsa, you are required to ask and grant forgiveness to all that ask it. N jokes with me, as we have nothing to apologize for between us.

I dream I am in a basement full of small animals, namely a black and white rabbit. One small window shows it is nighttime outside. All at once a black panther enters, coming right up to me just like at the zoo but there is no thick pane of glass between us. I can feel whiskers brushing against my cheek, foul breath on me, stinking of rotten meat and blood. The panther's fur reeks of smoke and shit and piss. I wait for it to bite me, to gnaw on my bones but then it all disappears. Now it is morning in some boarding house I live in. I go downstairs, finding my way to the kitchen. A lady is putting plates out on a long table. I am starving, my stomach gurgling and empty. The plates are full of boiled human hands. It is the only thing to eat. I pull back, asking if there is anything else. She shakes her head no. Desperate, I bite into a palm and then spit it out.

I will go hungry here.

Comments

Annie said…
Well, that is pretty disturbing. The first part is certainly clear....but the second. Hm, I don't know. How's work going?
I've been having weird dreams lately as well... Love this photo of E!!
oh how I await your returns. Both here and there, M. Because I always see/feel something I haven't seen before. Panthers? Whoa! Rabbits?
Omgrrrl said…
At least you sleep and dream. Spring is upon us.
A time of renewal.

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