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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 …

of patriots


There are parades going on now, jets screaming overhead in formation. There are crowds, and military bands, supposedly a new tank on display. But that is in Red Square, and like any wise foreigner I am inside, tucked in a corner far from the center of the city, working on another Russian holiday.

Going for a walk in the late afternoon, we push the stroller hoping V will find sleep for at least an hour or so. There is a forest with a path, dirt lines curving into a thick collection of trees, the occasional bridge over brown water. Normally, this place is marked by old people and children on little scooters. It is a quiet acre where birds and insects flit around.

Today, every hundred feet offers another clump of people crouched around small grills. There are giant clouds of smoke. Some smell good, some smell like jet fuel. The sun is reaching into the forest before it sets. Children wear soldier's hats, with sticks they whack against leaves shouting words I do not hear. There are families, and collections of young people. They look at us as we roll past, with long, blank stares. No small nod of the head, no acknowledgment, no tip of the beer bottle.

There are groups of migrants too, men with black hair and low pointy shoes, squatting on flattened cardboard boxes in small circles. They do not even look, faces to the center, speaking in low voices.

There is one drunk man, shoving and arguing with another less-drunk man. I am trying to take pictures with my Leica, the smoke and the trees are too good to pass up and N is telling me to put the camera away, to follow her, to keep moving.





Comments

liv said…
Please tell N I wish her a Happy Mother's day, a bit late because of the time difference, but none the less with heartfelt joy.

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