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Breathing the right air

Nothing brings more comfort than a bag of good things to cook, swinging under your arm as you make your way home. Somehow it blots out the rest of the world. In these moments, the entire universe consists of a late afternoon sun, a stray dog and a clump of flowers growing strange and wild in a yard. A hit of basil jumps from my elbows with each swing of the bag, a gift from one of the ladies I buy from the most. I visit markets without intention, just eyes open ready to discover fresh peas, or the first corn. Knowing that these products will disappear as quickly as they present themselves creates a certain form of excitement. Each season offers up this rhythm and without it I might become completely lost.

I think of when we were in Tuscany a month ago, feeling like such a tourist until I wandered out along the highway and found the local vegetable stand. I shoved squash blossoms and tiny tomatoes into a bag, rushing back to our room like I had robbed a bank. I made pasta with them th…

the liar, the lie

In the kitchen in the middle of the night for a glass of water, I smell the garbage. It stinks of chicken bones and rotting fruit. Tying it closed, I leave it there. I leave it there because that is what people do. I will throw it away tomorrow in the light of day, when I am dressed. 

When I am ready.

Monday is a holiday. Russia Day, the day the USSR went back to being called Russia. Another day of great change, or no change at all. There was a screaming argument with E's mother, with E joining in, begging to stay in my house. Her tears, her pleas mean nothing. There is a ruler, and the ruled. Decisions are handed down, unopen to discussion. The madwoman flashes her grin, her teeth, her fear tactics. She told me she reads the blog, that soon a lawyer will contact me or maybe not as she pretends to display mercy for dramatic effect. At one point, all that matters is what we believe. It becomes the truth. 

The liar and the lie create a perfect circle.



There is nothing to do but scream back, to reject her madness outright. There can be no surrender. The fight is all I have to defend E. The fight is what keeps me whole.

E stares at me with giant eyes. 
"Don't let her take me." She says, under her breath.
I want to tell her "the good guys always win". I want to tell her that "love is the strongest force in the universe". I want to tell her that her mother is just toying with us, as she has no friends, and no love in her life except for money. This game of tyranny is all she has left. 

This is why she is so dangerous. She has nothing to lose.

"Let's learn how to make a peanut butter sandwich." I tell E, messing up her hair and nudging her towards the kitchen.
"Nutella and peanut butter." She corrects me, bouncing on one leg and following.
"First you open the nutella, and let it get soft." I tell her, pulling it from the fridge.
She nods, suddenly serious.
"If you learn to cook something, you always feel better if you are sad." I tell her. "And if you already feel good, then you feel really great."
She looks up at me, resting one hand on my elbow.
She smiles.
I see the garbage, tied up and leaning against the cabinet. I take it outside, and dump it down the chute. The safety pin is still there. A man smokes a cigarette in the hallway as he reads a book. He is always on this windowsill, avoiding someone, hovering for hours by the glass bottle that has become an ashtray. 

Back inside, E holds the lopsided sandwich up to me.
"Do you want half?" She asks.






Comments

honey-bunny-bar said…
exactly the same parquet floors as we had at home, back in my childhood! you sent me all the way down memory lane
liv said…
Oh my gosh, she scares me. I'm scared for you and E and N too. I'm even scared for me...she's sooo scary.

Are those threats empty? Are they?

Please be cautious.
Annie said…
Ah.....I want that floor. I love the dogs in the flowers.

That is some serious piece of advice.

I have a lot of angst...and was just convincing myself yesterday that when I feel that way the best way out of it is to pick a chore and DO it! But, I like your way better - much better.....and I think I'll remember that idea!
Unknown said…
It's true - if you're sad and cook something it helps ease it just the tiniest bit. Or at least takes your mind off of it during the time you spend in the kitchen.

Your girl is so sweet ... you are both doing the best that you can, and maybe that is enough. Take care-
nicole said…
Ooops - "unknown" was me! Google confounds me sometimes ...

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