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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…

the dark

There is a smell in the dark wet street, of onions and cabbage and spoiled meat. It has a hot, steamy feel to it like school lunch. I shove my hands deeper into my pockets, walking faster towards home.
A shadow runs along the sidewalk next to me, dancing around the puddles. I look back once, and see that no one is there. 

Just me and the streetlights.

The neighbor is in the hallway in his socks. He wears a shirt with a rainbow across the middle, the kind a seven year old boy would have. He is polishing his boots on the windowsill, looking out into the darkness.

Inside, I pull my wet shoes off. The christmas lights are dancing on our little tree, and there is that messy angel on top made by an orphan. 





Comments

liv said…
So many times you've taken us to this hallway - I feel I know it. Bad lighting, funny smell, a wee bit damp with an odd odor...am I right?

The first part of this reminds me of that Bob Dylan photo - NY city, hands stuffed into pocks, cold and windy. But it's you...the Bob Dylan of Moscow.
This is good work! I have a couple of questions: (1) Why did you choose not to place a comma between dark and wet at the beginning of the first sentence? Why not treat "dark wet" as a compound adjective? (2) Why did you choose not to treat "seven year old" as a compound adjective by placing a hyphen between each word?

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