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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 …

the tiger in Spring

N and E wished me luck before going to sleep. I made sure the pen had been filled with that bright blue ink from Florence. V was already snoring lightly with her hands curled to her chest, all cherub. There was ice in the freezer, in alphabet molds. I filled a short glass with everything left from A-J. A good splash of the Adega Veha and it is time to look down at the trees bending in the night wind until I am ready.

And then all in one motion, I open the big black book. The notes in the grey journal are on the white table and the dog-eared page reveals itself, the scribbles I have read so many times. I did not know how he would arrive here, how to have it happen without question, without doubt. It took months, after years. I was not in a rush but Richard Stack told me I should always finish a book in Spring. If not in Spring I must wait until the next one - that it was not ready yet. I pushed on this, surrendering two long mornings last week in New York to a booth in the back of the Pearl Diner, laying low, hammering into seven full scenes that glued together a Bowery hotel, a cathedral, a kitchen, a fateful taxi ride.

I am listening to Tabula Rasa by Arvo Part. This has been the soundtrack for the book sessions for the past few years now. The music becomes a bubble, a sense memory that brings me back when I have not written about Paul and Anya and Pasha for some time. It makes the old fragment familiar, immediate. I thread the needle once again, looping into the old story and building a few new lines, a few more inches closer to the end.

This will be the night it ends. After more than eleven years, the book will be on the page now instead of a messy pile of possibilities. It will be one whole, and it will need some editing but I edit heavily as I go so it is safe to say the book is one pile of papers, a plane at the gate waiting for the go ahead, pages ready to taxi, to leap into the sky for some unknown destination.

I do finish, and there is no surprise. I sip from the old brandy, savoring the emptiness. There is a vacuum now. I know I will wake up and have no book to struggle with, no ending to chew on as I take walks to buy groceries. The tiger has been brought to the mat and will not bite.


Comments

Unknown said…
Fantastic news, way to go!

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