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cold nostalgia

There is a note, stuck to the front entrance of our building. The hot water will be turned off for ten days. This is something that happens every summer, although it snowed a week ago and children wander the playgrounds in ski hats these days. At night it can be 40 degrees fahrenheit.  The hot water is always turned off like this, at some point during June or July. It is a long-standing Soviet tradition, and people begrudgingly accept it here. But the baby, V does not. She wants to stand in a hot bath before she goes to sleep, to splash and pour water all around her, and N. She wants to stand and wiggle her tiny hands under the spout, as she grows pink and clean, as she howls and shouts for us to see what new trick she has improvised. There is no explanation for her, why the hot water is off today, and will be tomorrow. She is angry, furious even.

I used to buy the story that this offered a chance for the water department to fix pipes, to take care of routine maintenance. Hot water c…

she had freckles

Even in winter, she had freckles. More than handfuls, a constellation spread across her cheeks as she sat at the next desk her pencil held perfectly. Her small mouth has a constant half-open pucker, lips pressed forwards into the air a few millimeters closer to the chalkboard and our lesson.

Alexandra wore a very short green dress, a sort of jumper with yellow bric brack on the edges, Mary Janes, white socks. Her auburn hair in a soft bob edges flying in the air whenever I poked her, bothered her, disturbed her silence. She would turn to me, not angry like the other girls. 

No, Ali had grace.

I hounded her for years, hoping to secretly hold her hand in mine, maybe put my arm around her tiny shoulder or feel her warm breath on my ear as she whispered something wise or funny to me, only me.

I liked how she elongated words to make them her own.
“Yooouuuuuuuuuu.” She would say when I dropped a pencil to the floor or papers so I could mess up her socks or knock her desk crooked.



We took a field trip to a prison, the walls thick with layers of lime green paint. She stared at me once in the cel that afternoon.
A slow exchange beyond the simplicity of words. 

Two eight year olds scared out of their minds.

Later we ate our brown bag lunches on some grass the sun pushing through the Maple trees, splashing our legs with white light.



When we graduated she was already in a different class, already distant. Sixth grade ended with some free ice cream and a school bus full of crazy kids juiced up on sugar and chocolate, stinking of warm soda ripping our clip-on ties and shirts off, tearing our notebooks into shards of makeshift confetti, whipping papers in the air and out the windows.

I never saw her again.

She had freckles. More than handfuls, a constellation.


Ali E. 1968-2010

Comments

liv said…
merci, merci, merci.

She probably still loves you. I still love the blue eyed boy who pulled my hair.

Your writings are the very best thing that has happened to me for a long time.

I hope you had a good Father's Day. I wish I'd had a father like you.
Rabbit blogger said…
Liv - thanks for you truly generous comment. Hope to hear from you again.

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