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small change (exceptions)

There are two buildings that rise up in the distance, when I go towards the hardware store. I imagine a modern-day Rapunzel might live in one of them. The sky is packed with clouds, but a strange one hovers above one of the towers, a lonely mushroom, a cloud fedora, a sore thumb.

There is a store here, Pyaterochka. The name brings to mind a little bird, maybe a sparrow. I used to go to a Pyaterochka that had little birds that flew around inside it, but it actually means "5", taken from the Russian word "pyat". In "little five" people wander the aisles, counting out rubles, with bags of potatoes, maybe a box of wine. I find myself scouring the neighborhood from time to time, looking for a special type of milk for V. It comes in tiny purple boxes, and appears as randomly and sparingly as butterflies. Today, I am in Pyaterochka and there are a few boxes. I check the expiration dates on them. Stores here will sell expired milk and meat without batting an eye…

smoke


Fumbling to make her sandwich in the dim light I shiver once, then again. It is time to nudge her slowly until her eyes open, remind her to brush her teeth and make sure the school bag has the right books in it. We move around each other in one of our many choreographed silences, hairbands offered, phones tucked into pockets, scarves pulled once, the click of a light going on, the turning of the lock, the elevator jangling down. Tiny dogs are barking in the early morning air as we go outside.

The yarmarka (outdoor market) that stood in two neat rows for weeks, is suddenly gone now. Without warning the tents and boxes of fruits are nowhere to be seen. People are smoking cigarettes in the wet air, shoulders bowed against the wind off the river. Sometimes it feels like everyone is smoking here, hacking and spitting on the sidewalks and the walls, tossing lit butts in garbage cans that then smoke and catch fire. Most mornings are punctuated with the smell of burning plastic.

"Are you still with a fever?" She asks me at one point.
"I think it is gone now." I answer. "I just feel like crap."
"Okay." She says, drawing the word out.
People are tiptoeing around a giant puddle, their feet sticking in the mud.
"You should still have soup for lunch." She reminds me.
"Alright." I tell her.
"You know, I like to skip." She says. "Even if I don't feel good I like to skip."



Comments

liv said…
Funny, the coincidences even when we are all thousands of miles away. I too went to the Farmers Market on Sunday, knowing it would be the last of the season. Well, maybe there will be one more, but only pumpkins and squash available.

Spent the week in fever and tossing pain from a kidney stone, not pleasant. Hope you are fully recovered soon. I have a ways to go.

But I will think of that little one skipping, ahhh, that makes me feel better already.

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