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no invitation

We are at a 3 year old's birthday party in the back room of a cafe. Music is pumping from a tiny speaker. Balloon animals are popping, and waving in the air. A man in a yellow dinosaur costume dances wildly. Parents snap pictures with satisfied smiles on their faces.

A little girl approaches gingerly and stands in the doorway, straying from her parents somewhere inside the restaurant. She cannot be more than three. It must be hard to ignore all of the noise coming from this room packed with celebration. There is a perfect little pony tail at the back of her head. She hesitates, as one foot poises in the air and then rests back down. How to understand that she was not invited. How to understand the laughter, the loose jumping bodies, the presents piled high on the window. None of this connects to her. There is a little plate of food waiting for her back there, in the quiet restaurant. Maybe a warm bowl of soup, thick with noodles. I watch her for some time.

That night, her empty e…

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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