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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

coins, keys, clouds


We find two coins on the ground, both tails up. E presses them into her pocket and we agree to toss them into the fountain close to her mother's house. There is a statue there, not of a war hero or an artist - a larger-than-life statue of an ordinary man. As we approach I wonder if the water is turned off already. Yesterday it snowed for an hour. Tiny cold specks danced on the car windshield.

The water is not splashing from the rocks down into the pool, but it is still wet.

I toss mine first. E goes overhand, missing the pool entirely. She runs into the grass to retrieve it, her arms straight by her sides in that odd rigid posture she has found.

E throws the coin more carefully.

Later we find a tiny key on the sidewalk. She pockets it as well.
"Pop." She tells me in the noisy street. "I know how to make right wishes."
"What makes a right wish?" I ask her.
"Well, I wish for animals because I care a lot about animals." She says, her mouth twisting around. "And I wish for right things, like living in Brooklyn, or for Spongebob being my friend forever."
"Ah." I say.
"And about chocolate." She adds, quickly.

We walk in silence, as dead leaves twist in the afternoon sky.

At home she will practice guitar while I make dinner. She will read a book, her legs twisted impossibly as she tells me what each page might say. She is making it up as she goes along.
There is a massive thumping and grinding sound from the apartment below ours. She presses her hands to her ears, running around the house. It has been going on for days. I imagine someone is building something and then breaking it down over and over again.


She brushes her teeth. We stand on the dark balcony looking at the traffic trickling along the river. Her mouth moves in silence.

"I was just wishing again." She says after she is done. "You can wish on clouds or balconies if you are very very quiet."
I nod, making no sound.

After she has gone to sleep, with furry dolls clutched tight to her chest I go back to the balcony and do the same.


Comments

liv said…
Such a funny pose for little girls. I did that too all the time when I was growing up, as did my daughter.

Here's hoping dreams come true and wishes get granted.

Toss....
Omgrrrl said…
Agree with Liv. I did that all the time. Still do.

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