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the list

It was a simple request, but it took me months to solve it. Soon we will have guests in the house for V's birthday, and the cascading piles of notes and camera parts, the lopsided villages of books, the forgotten bowls of loose change - they all had to find homes. I even bought a collection of clear, stackable boxes just after Christmas, but they sat like empty open mouths gathering bits of fluff and dust in them until today. With little flakes of fresh snow dancing against the windows, I began at one end of the room.

The problem with cleaning is that you constantly find lost treasures, windows into your past lives. Here, a set of notes from a film I was writing some seven years ago. Here, the warranty for a watch I bought for N (that I still need to register). And next, a Soviet ruble that I bought in Tbilisi at the dry bridge market, the location of the lost wonders of the world. Next to a broken saxophone and an old rug, I remember noticing a handful of old coins that I bought…

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.


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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