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running away with the circus (looking for dolphins)

There are three of them, a brazen woman with bright eyes and a big voice, a man going grey with a hop in his step and a younger woman who might be their daughter or their niece that twists her short hair into little tufts. They roam the hotel, sometimes in elaborate costumes, letting us know that there will be a secret dance party near the ballroom in an hour.

The older woman strolls in during dinner in a costume of blinking Christmas lights and exotic face paint. V stares up at her, convinced she is a princess or a fairy or maybe both. The next night, she is all in black, great horns wobbling on her head. She always has a pair of black Converse high tops on, as if they go with every costume or maybe they are the only shoes she owns.

The man is typically dressed as a pirate, in a striped shirt, maybe an eye patch. He is perfectly relaxed, like his limbs are made of silly straws. The younger woman is always smiling, her mouth a wall of metal braces and lip gloss. I imagine they sleep …

the last day

The guitar recital was Monday. On Tuesday there was the English party, with a stage full of nine year olds shouting B-I-N-G-O at the top of their lungs. There were metallic balloons shaped like crescent moons tacked to the back wall. I made faces at E, trying to get her to screw up but it only made her smile. 

On Wednesday, they will take an excursion to a science museum with the promise of rotary telephones and cosmonaut suits. E does not need to wear her white shirt and dark blue skirt, and suddenly her personality is flying around in a t-shirt decorated with sardines and some striped leggings, purple sneakers with leopard spots on them and her silver leather jacket. Halfway outside she frowns for a moment.
"I forgot to put on perfume." She tells me.

We walk to school, the street full of men in short-sleeved shirts, women in gauzy dresses, old women in sagging knee stockings, soldiers, cleaning men in orange jumpsuits. 
"The best day of school." She announces. "Is the last day of school."

At the traffic light I look down at her.
"But we made a list." I tell her. "Of all of the stuff we are going to do this summer."
She nods.
"And now you have to make one too." She adds. "Like to finish your book."



She sends me text messages once she is inside. 

     We r having breakfast.
     The bus is green
     it cost 50 
     it has not started yet
     no it cost 250
     there was no phone like they said
     taking pictures

I work in silence, the drapes moving slowly. Tomorrow at this time she will be here. The work unfolds.

She calls. They are on their way back. 

I wait downstairs. 

She drags her gym clothing bag behind her. There are kind words with her teacher. Faces nodding, smiles plastered across all of them, the smell of the guard at the desk behind us like he has not washed since New Years Day. I slap the front doors open and we are outside. E throws her head back, letting out a great sigh. 

"I can't believe I made it." She cries out. "No more second grade!"

Children twist their heads, trying to understand what she has said.





Comments

liv said…
She is really (as opposed to - I some how thought she would always be tiny) growing up.

The perfume, the last day of second grade, so girl - so bright.

And that face ! Filling out and becoming. Now, instead of just seeing you, she is actually looking back at you. More present in herself. Couldn't be more beautiful xo

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