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no invitation

We are at a 3 year old's birthday party in the back room of a cafe. Music is pumping from a tiny speaker. Balloon animals are popping, and waving in the air. A man in a yellow dinosaur costume dances wildly. Parents snap pictures with satisfied smiles on their faces.

A little girl approaches gingerly and stands in the doorway, straying from her parents somewhere inside the restaurant. She cannot be more than three. It must be hard to ignore all of the noise coming from this room packed with celebration. There is a perfect little pony tail at the back of her head. She hesitates, as one foot poises in the air and then rests back down. How to understand that she was not invited. How to understand the laughter, the loose jumping bodies, the presents piled high on the window. None of this connects to her. There is a little plate of food waiting for her back there, in the quiet restaurant. Maybe a warm bowl of soup, thick with noodles. I watch her for some time.

That night, her empty e…

salad days

Tiny hard flakes are catching the street lights. The three of us walk in short steps on the slippery sidewalk. I keep checking my watch thinking we will be late but of course we are thirty minutes early. E is excited, talking randomly about twins and magical worlds and ice cream all at once. N is quiet, her hand in mine in the cold air. 

The movie is the typical family film, edged with romance then a few moments when I find myself laughing out loud. E is giggling away, both hands over her mouth like a little mouse that has stolen a truckload of cheese. She whispers to me sometimes, in that loud child's voice that carries through the room. No one seems to care. She wants to know why a car driving away from a volcano gets covered in white ash. She wants to know what a letter says, as she only read part of it. She wants to know if this guy is the one who did the voice in that other film. She wants me to know that she knows the name of that actress. 


When it is over, and we are stretching slowly I watch both of them. N is checking for something in her purse. E is slapping her hat on, wrapping her scarf around her neck. I begin to realize how simple the night has been, how uneventful. This time last year there was screaming on telephones, drama, threats and the usual hysteria. E had a fever in the middle of it. I cannot say more, but would. It was a terrible way to begin the year.

I walk in-between them, each holding one of my hands. The street is white now, the cars slicing through the wet piles as they whip past. These are some salad days, I tell myself knowing full well there is nothing green around us. These are days when we can just be ourselves, enjoying simple pleasures, making pancakes and jokes at the kitchen table.




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