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every other man

The light outside the main entrance to our building has gone out again. The heavy metal door swings wide as I pull a hat down over my ears. In the darkness there are maybe twenty teenagers standing still. My boot scrapes across the ground, slowing down. Their hands in pockets, shoulders hunched, I look for a space to pass between them. A voice appears, saying hello in English, with an obvious accent. I am all instinct, sayingpivyet as I pass, not looking back, wondering who said this. There was a boy that was an extra in Blackbetty that lives in our building, but he is too young, too short for it to have been him.

I look back, navigating the puddles in the street. It does not make any sense.

N is with V, making their way home. I meet them, pulling V into my arms as she chatters about her day, about dry leaves and princesses, about her grandmother's apartment and what she ate there. We are going back home, and I try to explain the odd collection that stands outside. As we pass th…

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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