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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 …

Someplace in Mexico (Buddha on the water)




It takes some time for the irony to sink in, that she wants to crawl into a six foot plastic bubble and roll around, buoyed in this water tank on the outskirts of the city. The giant balls are tethered to the launch area. The man who runs the place does not get paid with carnival tickets, just money in his hand. $6 for something like five minutes and I can pay extra to keep her inside when the time is up, depending on how many people are waiting. 

She sits in there, her pants suddenly too tiny, rocking back and forth pretending she is a tiny Buddha on the water. The other children are doing flips, running like gerbils inside their balls. I take pictures, yelling above the din of the crowd that she should do something but she smiles at me instead. 
“That was amazing.’ She announces, emerging after two extra-long turns inside on wobbly legs.
The man smiles at me, nodding.
I tell him he has a great job, that he makes a lot of people very happy. He agrees, offering more smiles and giant cartoon head nods. 


And then we are not there in the water tank universe any more. We are in Moscow, the city she has not left for more than seven years now. 

Walking in the street, we discuss me the places I will take her someday, in order of importance.
     New York
      New Orleans
      Rome
      Someplace in Mexico
      Maybe Puerto Rico
      Someplace in Spain
      A lot of places in Italy, like Bologna
      Not the desert
      Coney Island
      Paris or Portugal
      Maybe Australia







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