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you are not there

We are taking the little one for a ride on her new sled. It is bright orange, with a fuzzy black and white seat cover to keep her extra warm. Her tiny hands in tiny gloves hold the sides as tight as she can. I pull her down a path, shouting "woohooo" and then she replies "woohoo". N's turn is next, pulling her more schoolgirl than mother for a few minutes. There are other parents with children on sleds passing us. Their eyes straight forward, faces completely blank they slip by in silence. I flash a smile to them, and they do not even look at me. I am not there, just another tree leaning towards the stream that runs below.

There are ducks still, flapping around the brackish water and we throw pieces of stale bread to them. I start to think, not about the complete absence of smiles in this culture. I stopped asking about that long ago, told over and again that smiles are reserved for home, behind closed doors. But I wonder, for the children -  these wiggling bu…

what happens next

My little white table is still out, fountain pen and notebooks resting in the darkened room.  E spies it when we come home from school. 
"That is for your big book, not the Monday stories, right?" She asks me.
I nod.
"How is it going?" She asks, wresting her muddy boots off in the hallway.
"Ok." I tell her. "It is the end of a very long story, and it has to be really, really great."
She pinches her chin in thought.
"I think it will be fine." She announces. "You have been working on it for forever!"
I get the pile of printed pages littered with blue pen edits scribbled in the margins. She takes it from me, weighing it in her hands.
"Heavy?" I ask her.
She balances it, lifting it into the air a few times.
"Not really." E answers, handing it carefully back to me.

I start dinner and wash dishes. 
She sits at the kitchen table doing her homework.
"Ok, done with math." She says after ten minutes.
E nibbles on the rest of her lunch as she works.
"Ok, done with nature science." She says a few minutes later. 
I lower the flame on the chicken, as it begins to braise.
She is skipping in the hallway.

I tune her guitar, and she practices the new piece. Her fingers have to reach across two frets in this one and it hurts her pinky. We take breaks, setting a timer for one minute, playing for three minutes and then deciding if the piece sounds better.

The house smells of black olives and tomato, salty and roundly sweet as the chicken bubbles away.

E asks me for an empty notebook. I give her one from the pile. 
She hums to herself, legs crossed, eyes far off in thought, then her hand is leaping to the page. Her hair falls over her face as she hovers over the letters, spelling them out with silent lips. 
I go back to work, and then she stands next to me, the book stretched out in her hand.

"Wonderful." I say, after reading it twice. "Is this the whole thing, or just the beginning?"
"Just the beginning, of course." She assures me.
"It really feels like a lot could happen in this." I say.
"Oh yes!" She tells me, her eyes lighting up. "It is about a sad and lonely guy, but that is just the start of the story."
I nod, messing her hair up and kissing her forehead.
"I can't wait to hear what happens next."
She smiles, a fierce, satisfied grin and then goes back to the notebook, pen in hand.


liv said…
My god! That was a beautiful post, the very essence of why I come here!

Thank you, Marco, for making the effort every Monday. For writing the "big" book...can't wait! For raising this divine little thing with the integrity and passion that you do. It all matters so much!
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