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Not me, her

In 1987, I found myself trying to write about a high school girlfriend that had been molested by her father when she was a child. I was 19 years old, struggling to find my way through a screenwriting assignment about delivering character. The idea was to describe messy young love between two Sid and Nancy want-to-be's. But that failed, as I could not stomach oversimplifying her complicated past, events that shaped her life as a 16 year old with a mohawk, a smart mouth, a lingering stare. I understood that I had to start at the very beginning.

No one wanted to hear the story. When it was my turn to read in class, it even came to be that some of the other students asked to stand in the hallway before they heard another description of what happened in that lonely little house in the middle of nowhere. I was trying, and failing, and trying again to get things right, to explain how this happened, how it could happen to this girl, how this man found his way to acts of selfishness and d…

fireworks (a time capsule)


"Pop!" She shouts from the living room. "It was a bomb!"
We are in the kitchen. I do not even look. 
"It's just fireworks." I call to E, chopping some garlic.
There are always fireworks here, a series of holidays I will never grasp or remember. Fireworks for every day, just like Disney World.

An hour later, N calls me to the kitchen and points out the window. In the distance, a building is on fire. Federation Tower, the half-built jewel of modern Russia. 

Old men say it looks offensive, this cluster of steel and glass next to the river. 


Like any New Yorker who lived downtown that September morning, seeing a building on fire like this strikes a certain chord. It all tumbles back. Night becomes day. A time capsule opens and we look inside for a while, from a safe distance. Where we were, what we were doing, the drone of tv sets left on all night, the black cloud that drifted towards Brooklyn, the smell.

I have been standing looking at the flames for some time. N says nothing, but knows everything. She makes us two cups of black tea. I get E to brush her teeth. I put pyjamas on her bed to change into. We sit at the round edge of the kitchen table in the near-darkness.

Monday night, and no one is sleepy.

A helicopter thrashes the air outside the balcony windows. Dogs in the sky, patrolling the territory.


The next morning, all is quiet.
It is over, again.



Comments

liv said…
You see, she was right! "Pop, bomb!"

What a scary place to be living in. Is there anything good about Moscow??
Omgrrrl said…
So what caused it? Reports here say the cause is "not known".
Marco North said…
The official cause is a sheet of plastic coming in contact with a work light - something between negligence and an accident. Two days before the fire, Mirax the developer admitted the project was $250M in debt to the press.

Quite the coincidence.

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