There is a chapter to finish. An ugly set of actions to describe. A naked mother screams at a little boy. There is desperation, isolation, a whistled tune and an apple orchard. I have tried to put it all down without bias, without hating her, without defending him. It is a disgusting moment, but an important one. This is the work at hand, to illustrate the grotesque and somehow make it luminous.
E does not understand this yet, this redemption from ugliness. When I pick her up on Sunday and take a picture of a makeshift ashtray on a hallway ledge she asks me why I do this.
I am almost too tired to explain it.
"I am trying to make it look interesting." I tell her.
"But it is just cigarettes." She says, shrugging her shoulders.
"To me it is more than that." I answer.
He mouth twists around a little.
"Ok." She admits, and takes my hand as we go down the stairs and outside to the wet street littered with yellow leaves. She chatters about the new dolls she likes, listing their names, explaining why one is more likable than another. We stop at the vegetable stand and I buy fresh feijoada, their green skins glowing inside the plastic bag. They look like eggs, I realize.
The days and weeks pass, uneventful. There are tender moments. There is dancing in the kitchen, spinning N around and somehow dipping her without knocking into the washing machine or breaking any dishes. There is music. There are pots of goulash, and bowls of minestrone that I cook on the tiny stove in this cramped room, the windows painted with steam. There is a wobbly table and a fresh bottle of olive oil. The wine all tastes like rubbing alcohol and grape juice no matter what shelf I buy it from. The tomatoes are already pale and mealy. It may start to snow any day now.
I am never ready.
The door to winter may open soon. The grit and slush will fill our boots. I will stand in front of windows staring at white skies, hopefully getting past this chapter to finish.