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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 darkest day

I pull the hat down over my face, and try to lean against the window. It is clammy with the sweat of morning coating the inside of the little bus. I wait for it to lurch into gear, wobbling towards home. Someone nudges my shoulder and I assume it is just another jacket or purse swiping against me, as people shove their way down the narrow aisle. No, it is a man asking for change for a 500 ruble bill. I shake my head, pull the hat down to my chin. 

The darkest day is over. Soon the little edge of light in the distance will be bigger by the time I get back, hoping the elevator is working, pulling kasha from the shelf, chopping some onion, fishing an egg out of the fridge, dancing on cold feet and waiting for the water to boil for tea. The crows are still making noise downstairs in the playground. It sounds more like a cartoon graveyard.



The bus rounds the turn onto the road that runs along the river. There is the old place. They did not change the windows yet. I can remember the sound of the ones on the balcony swatting around in the wind or slamming shut all by themselves.

It is about to be eight years here. Eight years of cold stares and outstretched hands. Eight years of bargaining for potatoes, for an extra piece of fruit. Eight years of mud puddles and cars that drive on sidewalks, of quiet nights, of giant cups of sweet black tea at kitchen tables, birthdays, anniversaries, forgotten bottles of wine. It all compresses, packs down to nothing, just a messy pile of papers at the corner of my desk. Eight years turned as thin as twenty pages of paper.

E's hair is long. I brush it each morning, pulling out the knots and twisting it into a ponytail. We walk, wordless in the darkness between the streetlights each morning. She takes my hand when we cross icy spots and leans against me while we wait for the bus.





Comments

liv said…
I hope there is some cheer for you in these few christmas days. I know there is.

I am sending Love to all three of you. Sweet dreams, good food, enough wine and the warmth of three hands holding.

Liv

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