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running away with the circus (looking for dolphins)

There are three of them, a brazen woman with bright eyes and a big voice, a man going grey with a hop in his step and a younger woman who might be their daughter or their niece that twists her short hair into little tufts. They roam the hotel, sometimes in elaborate costumes, letting us know that there will be a secret dance party near the ballroom in an hour.

The older woman strolls in during dinner in a costume of blinking Christmas lights and exotic face paint. V stares up at her, convinced she is a princess or a fairy or maybe both. The next night, she is all in black, great horns wobbling on her head. She always has a pair of black Converse high tops on, as if they go with every costume or maybe they are the only shoes she owns.

The man is typically dressed as a pirate, in a striped shirt, maybe an eye patch. He is perfectly relaxed, like his limbs are made of silly straws. The younger woman is always smiling, her mouth a wall of metal braces and lip gloss. I imagine they sleep …

no fairy, just wet sand

I had wanted to start the day taking pictures of N's hands and her breakfast - fresh cheese, a round loaf of bread torn into pieces, the spoon in the honey that is slathered across the surface. Her morning face, rapt in silence as she sips strong black tea.

She wears one of my shirts that became her bathrobe many many months ago. 

E walks into the kitchen, ready for another bowl of cherries. It is an oddly peaceful Saturday morning.

"Ready for the tooth fairy to come tonight?" I ask her. 
She stares at me. She wanted to keep the tooth for a few days first, reluctant to surrender it to the unknown. There are no tooth fairies in Russia. 

"It's still in the jar, right?" I ask her.
She stares at me.

I go to the living room. 
It is gone. 

I start to ask if she was playing with it, how it might have gotten lost. I root through piles of drawings, through legos and tiny bits of plastilene. It is nowhere. E stands, her arms stiff by her sides. Her chin thrust into her chest, she stares at me. A terrible moment passes. I want to ignore the thoughts entering my mind. I kneel on the floor, lift her chin with my thumb.
"It's not here, is it?" I ask, knowing the answer already.
She nods slowly, once.

I breathe in slowly, letting it out. I do not want her to see me angry.
"So your mother told you to hide it from me, and bring it to her?" I ask.
She nods, already crying.

"Did she threaten you?" I ask. "Did she say if you didn't bring it, something bad would happen to you?"
She nods again, shaking. 
She can hardly stand.
All at once she wilts into my arms, weeping. 
My shirt grows wet.

This is the first time E really lied to me. She let me think the tooth was still there for days. She hid it in her pocket and brought it to her mother's house in secrecy. She is learning deceit, which disturbs me deeply. I am not surprised. I knew a day like this one would come. We sit for some time, and I talk her through it. We agree on how to handle this new wrinkle. We are a team, and she knows it. She feels terrible, to have been manipulated. 

Her mother just took the tooth after she gave it to her, no money, no gift, no surprise. Just the same petty madness. Just the same bizarre victories she celebrates, while her daughter suffers, while her daughter forfeits a visit from a fairy.

Later, we go to the playground. The sun is fierce now, burning through the leaves of the poplar trees. The earth is dry, dust kicking up in great clouds as the children land at the bottom of a long red slide.

A tiny boy crawls through the dirt, his face pressed down, his mouth open. He is eating it, like a tractor plowing. His sunburned father chases after him, white socks, black sandals, half of a tattered pinstripe suit.  

Another boy wanders wildly, a leather strap around his chest like a pet. His mother yanks on him, when he goes too close to the swings. 

A midget boy runs up to E, crying wildly, galloping around the sandbox like some kind of wild animal. His face is wise, tiny yet large for his distorted body. He thrusts a stick into the sand with a satisfied flourish. It is his flag, I think to myself. E stares at him. She has only seen midgets in films, and never a midget child. 

She leaps to me, her hoarse whisper wet in my ear. 
"Pop, I just saw a really really fat pigeon." She says.

Accordion music swirls from the outdoor restaurant next to the playground. It does not stop, circling and circling in the quiet afternoon.

The boy on the leash stares at us speaking English. His tongue dangles from his mouth.

The midget boy is digging in the sand with his bare hands. The drunk sunburned father asks him a question he dos not understand. The midget boy scowls at him. His face is tired, annoyed. He tears off through the playground again, like a bee is on him. His legs flap sideways, more like a bird's wings as he careens across the slide and the jungle gym. He spies a cork in the grass, and gives it to the boy that eats dirt. I think he may be learning disabled. It's hard to tell, he is so small. 
"Hatchu probka?" The midget boy says. (Do you want a cork?)
The boy grabs it.

The midget boy runs off, growling as he leaps over a tiny garbage can. He makes sounds like he is the six million dollar man. The boy on the leash screams at him.

E looks up at me. She face twists through a number of things she might say to me. I smile at her.
"I love you, kiddo." I say.
She nods once, mostly to herself and then goes back to digging for wet sand.


Lost in a glass of lilacs, Rip Van Winkle, missing teeth, fairies, and E. ... If the brothers Grimm had been a poet, you would be he. (grammar?) What marvelous, marvelous posts, M. Thank you, as ever.
Omgrrrl said…
As the story goes, when I lost my first tooth I was instructed to leave it under my pillow for the tooth fairy.

Being the pain in the ass child that I was I hid the tooth and left a note under my pillow that read "If you are so smart - find my tooth".

The next morning I found a note under my pillow that read "If you are so smart - find the money."

Faeires are smart. You can counteract this moment of disappointing pain with a bit a of faerie dust.

Faeries don't need teeth. They just need someone to clap for them.

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