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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…

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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