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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…

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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