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cold nostalgia

There is a note, stuck to the front entrance of our building. The hot water will be turned off for ten days. This is something that happens every summer, although it snowed a week ago and children wander the playgrounds in ski hats these days. At night it can be 40 degrees fahrenheit.  The hot water is always turned off like this, at some point during June or July. It is a long-standing Soviet tradition, and people begrudgingly accept it here. But the baby, V does not. She wants to stand in a hot bath before she goes to sleep, to splash and pour water all around her, and N. She wants to stand and wiggle her tiny hands under the spout, as she grows pink and clean, as she howls and shouts for us to see what new trick she has improvised. There is no explanation for her, why the hot water is off today, and will be tomorrow. She is angry, furious even.

I used to buy the story that this offered a chance for the water department to fix pipes, to take care of routine maintenance. Hot water c…

Niki Dashentine and the Black Black Miracle

E skips down the dark halls of the music school, a silhouette interrupted by a few fluorescent rectangles. We search for our coats in a tiny room littered with muddy boots and broken hooks. Her coat has been thrown to the floor. Mine was relocated to the deepest corner. 

We emerge as the sun dips behind some clouds and the air turns colder. 
"Do you want an eclair on the way home?" I ask her.
Her face twists around.
"I'm ok without it." She says.

Her undersized guitar thumps against my shoulder blades. Her school bag twists around my neck and then the music bag. I feel like a gypsy, making our way down icy steps and down Kutuzovsky. 

Old women in ratty fur coats travel in packs of two and three, some holding umbrellas against the new snow that is falling. They move like penguins. 

E squeezes my hand once, looking up at me.


"You know Pop, I have a new story." She announces.
"Tell me about it." I shout into the cold air.
"It is about a girl named Niki Dashentine." She explains. "I got her name on Valentine's Day, so it is kind of from that."
"Ok." I say.
"And the story is called The Black Black Miracle." She continues.
"Woho." I say.
E makes a funny face, asking me to calm down.
"So there is a scientist and he makes an experiment but it does not go how he wanted and it makes a girl. But the girl is a skeleton. He makes the girl as his daughter, and he takes care of her. She grows up but the other kids do not like her. They are mean to her because they say she does not have a brain." She tells me.
"That sounds like something." I say after a moment.
She squeezes my hand again.
"That is as far as I got to." She explains.
"And what is the miracle?" I ask her. "I did not understand that part."
"That he makes her the daughter." She says. "He does not throw it away."
"What away?" I ask.
"The experiment." She says.
We stop in front of the wedding hall for a moment. I readjust the bags, trying to get them to hang more comfortably. 
There are always foil hearts and stars on the ground here. 
I see words spraypainted on a wall. 
"The future - ." E reads out loud. "Is roses?"
"I guess so." I say.
"What does that even mean?" She asks, half-laughing.
"Maybe it is somebody else's black black miracle." I tell her.
She shrugs her shoulders, her chin bunching up.
"OK." She chirps. 
I stare at her for a moment, trying to understand how tall she is, how her eyes are so big, how she is taller than she was yesterday.
"Let's go home." She announces.






Comments

liv said…
It's incredible the way their little minds decipher their world. She observes so much and translates it for us with that baby-buddha way that children have.

Thanks so much for sharing this sweet little moment. A splendid way to start the week.
Banker Chick said…
E is the miracle, Such an imagination, and so deep.

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