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the empty

The fat girl as they call her, came to school with a hypodermic needle in her backpack. It may have been to defend herself, it may have been to instigate something. She comes from a broken home and this is her second or third school. E steers clear of her, and the bullies she tangles with. It was never understood  - how things began, who threw the first insult, the first punch, the first grabbed book but the end is a chronic cycle of violence. At one point, the girl's mother got the police involved and this was seen as offensive, a step too far. The police did not resolve anything so it was all just a lot of saber rattling. That is the most common sound here. The empty threat.

Last week, there was a sobrani, sort of a cross between a parent-teacher conference and a school meeting. I was busy, so E went by herself and took notes. Five minutes in she messaged me, that I was wise not to be there. Nothing about this girl was going to be resolved.
"Boys will be boys" was all …

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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