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running away with the circus (looking for dolphins)

There are three of them, a brazen woman with bright eyes and a big voice, a man going grey with a hop in his step and a younger woman who might be their daughter or their niece that twists her short hair into little tufts. They roam the hotel, sometimes in elaborate costumes, letting us know that there will be a secret dance party near the ballroom in an hour.

The older woman strolls in during dinner in a costume of blinking Christmas lights and exotic face paint. V stares up at her, convinced she is a princess or a fairy or maybe both. The next night, she is all in black, great horns wobbling on her head. She always has a pair of black Converse high tops on, as if they go with every costume or maybe they are the only shoes she owns.

The man is typically dressed as a pirate, in a striped shirt, maybe an eye patch. He is perfectly relaxed, like his limbs are made of silly straws. The younger woman is always smiling, her mouth a wall of metal braces and lip gloss. I imagine they sleep …

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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