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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 …

forget the eggs

On Sunday just before two I turn into the courtyard. A black Mercedes sedan is idling, then rolls lazily past the side gate. The details are all achingly familiar to me - each bench, each dappled path, where to throw out garbage. I feel nothing for this place, no sentimentality, no nostalgia, not even anger or disgust. It is simply where we lived seven years ago, and where E spends some of her Saturday nights. 

It is empty. A blank piece of paper nothing will be written on.

I look up at the balcony but E is not there. Sometimes she waits for me, hand ready to wave when I emerge from the parked cars. She must be packing up her computer, and those new headphones. 

I stand at the outside door, about to buzz and a hand sweeps in front of me. The arm is long and skinny, hairy. It is one of the neighbors. He has a habit of being dramatic like this. He stands in the street in nothing but a bathrobe, the fuzzy belt hanging lose, barely keeping it closed, no shirt underneath. I remember the first time I shared an elevator ride with him, his oily black hair, his giant brown eyes bloodshot and yellowing, his pointy slippers, the way he waited for me to have some eye contact and how he enjoyed that. 

Today he is in rare form, a carton of milk in one hand and a bag of eggs dangling below it. In Russia, egg cartons are some kind of luxury, only for buying eggs in the supermarket. If you buy them close to home, they simply put them in a thin plastic bag. He smiles, half of his giant gold teeth flashing in the hallway. His hips sway. The bathrobe is getting old, and looks like he washed it with the wrong things too many times, mousy now. I wonder if he is stoned. 

And then I understand, he does not remember me. This is the show for first encounters. 

I jab at the button in the elevator for the second floor and get out. I don't need to relive anything else so I take the stairs.









Comments

Joshua Alemany said…
The best decisions you make in life are the ones to move on. Sometimes they are joyous events, sometimes poignantly sad, and sometimes just necessary. You seem to be moving forward happily and with optimism Marco. The past is just that, passed. Enjoy your future and your present. As always, thanks for sharing. Peace. J
oldswimmer said…
Groan. The photo certainly gives an aroma to all of the "ambience." Wish you had showed us your daughter waiting at your safe cubby upstairs. Great writing.
Annie said…
Oh, what a wonderful character! Checkhov or Gogol could not have described him more perfectly.

I was reading about your eggs - how they still have their natural coating, so you don't have to refrigerate them. Nice.

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