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every other man

The light outside the main entrance to our building has gone out again. The heavy metal door swings wide as I pull a hat down over my ears. In the darkness there are maybe twenty teenagers standing still. My boot scrapes across the ground, slowing down. Their hands in pockets, shoulders hunched, I look for a space to pass between them. A voice appears, saying hello in English, with an obvious accent. I am all instinct, sayingpivyet as I pass, not looking back, wondering who said this. There was a boy that was an extra in Blackbetty that lives in our building, but he is too young, too short for it to have been him.

I look back, navigating the puddles in the street. It does not make any sense.

N is with V, making their way home. I meet them, pulling V into my arms as she chatters about her day, about dry leaves and princesses, about her grandmother's apartment and what she ate there. We are going back home, and I try to explain the odd collection that stands outside. As we pass th…

eight (heart on a plate)

"I like the number nine more than the number eight." E announces in the dim morning walk to school. "So maybe I could be nine today."
"How come?" I ask.
"Because eight looks like my shoelaces and they always come untied." She explains.

Upstairs, I leave a bag with twenty-five juice boxes and forty-nine homemade chocolate chip cookies for her school birthday party. The room is empty. Two girls run in, sliding across the floor in their mary janes. E is chirping away, explaining what kind of cookies we made. The girls are smiling and staring at the dad who cooks. 

I kiss E on the forehead and head home.


The dry ingredients meet the wet ones, and then the blueberries. The cake cooks for forty minutes and the house smells like a giant muffin. The rooms get clean. A little bit of work gets done and then it is time to go back and get her, to trudge through the half-shoveled snow through tiny crooked paths, to put on a pot of pasta water and warm up those meatballs and sauce for a fast lunch. 

We hover over the bowls afterwards, smacking our lips.
"Pop, look." E says, pointing at her near-empty dish.
"Good job." I answer. "Almost the whole thing."
"No." She says, pointing. "It made a heart."
I look, a laugh jumping out of my mouth.
"We made a heart." I correct her.
She smiles with an odd sort of satisfaction.






After the guests have come and gone, after the waves of food are eaten and the plates are piled in a mess of paper and plastic, after the pinata we made is forced piece by piece into a garbage bag, we sit in the room without talking.
"It was a good party, Pop." E tells me after a while.
I can hear N in the kitchen starting to wash some dishes.
E reaches out, and hugs me for some time.
"I'm gonna go to sleep now." She whispers.
"After you brush your teeth." I whisper back.
She walks to the kitchen and I hear her saying something to N.
I close my eyes and let out a long breath. It is time to put leftovers in containers, to toss bags of trash down the chute in the hallway, to drink one cup of black tea and tuck E in, to lay down on my back and snore before my head touches the cool pillow.




Comments

liv said…
I hope you rest well, Marco, knowing that so much good comes of your hard work.

She is absolutely beautiful!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Eva and also to you, Marco - good poppa.

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