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the first

The yarmarka (farmer's market) is about to close. Some of the people are already packing up, offering their last bruised tomatoes at half-price to anyone walking past them.  I am wandering, staring at bunches of herbs, at the same old options - cabbage, pepper, potato, garlic, apple, cucumber. But then I see a pile of peas. The season must have come early this year. I buy a kilo, and some mint. I know what is for dinner. We have not had it in eleven months.

At home, I rip the bag open, showing them to V. She stands by the kitchen table, eyes wide. I crack one open, showing her the little rounds inside. She plucks one out, her pinky pointing to the ceiling.
"Try it." I tell her.
She does, but she does not like it.

I pull out a bowl for them. She jumps up and down a few times. V always wants to help in the kitchen. I pull her to my lap, and we begin pulling them out from the shells. She learns quickly, tossing them with a flourish into the bowl, a few cascading to the flo…

hard water

We are all together, celebrating deep into the night. E is chirping like a little bird, at one moment plinking the keys of a piano, the next swapping the costumes on a small army of dolls. N is chewing on dried persimmons, talking to an endless stream of relatives on her phone, all wishing great things for us this year. I slurp down champagne after champagne, not the slightest bit drunk. 

I see everything with a cold eye. It has started to snow. A woman's lipstick is smeared. A bored teenage boy is about to fall asleep. There is a perfect handprint mark of flour on my jeans from the dinner I cooked earlier, in our apartment.

My thoughts run to the minutes just after midnight, driving to pick up E. She emerges from behind that door. She tells me her mother will leave her with us for the entire week. The madwoman claims to have fallen in the bathtub and her brain has been hurt, that she will soon go to the hospital and will only be better on Saturday. E winces at the transparency, the half-baked lie. It saddens her, but not as much as she feels good to spend a week off with us. 


The dim light in the sky tells us nothing about the hour. The streets are silent. E is hungry for an egg sandwich. N will sleep for another few hours, her perfumed shoulders a warm mound above the blankets that I sneak in to kiss, wondering when she will rise.

And then after picking through the leftovers, after some board games and E has gone to sleep, we watch films late into the night.

The house is clean. The dishes are washed. There is nothing to do, for once. There is nothing to wake up early for.


A cautious optimism fills the hours. So many battles behind us. So many won. I see a march to progress in E's face, and in the drawings she makes. We are like water, eroding the hard edges of rocks. We bend, but never stop. We are wearing the monster down, molecule by molecule.





Comments

Banker Chick said…
Have a wonderful and Happy New Year.
Sarah said…
Happy New Year! I love reading your blog. I have three Russian children and I really feel for all you are going through with E. and her Mum. All the best for a wonderful New Year!
Omgrrrl said…
In the words of Tom Robbins, Beowulf that Grendel.
Elizabeth said…
Wishing you happiness, health and peace this year!

Liz
pegbur7 said…
Wishing you a wonderful new year.

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