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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 …

something about rain (E makes a movie)


I am looking for my charging cable, and wonder if E took it. I am in her bedroom now, the stuffed animals wrapped in scarves are hugging each other on the windowsill. I yank open some desk drawers. They are packed with scraps of paper and folded things, paperclips, little jangly sounds. The next, crammed full of god knows what. A quick wave of vertigo washes over me. This is what my desk drawers look like on a good day. I call her, ask if she knows where my cable is. She does not. I find it behind the couch half an hour later.

E stands by my desk on Sunday afternoon. I am working, staring at an animation. 
"Pop." She says in a quiet voice.
I turn to her.
"I need to shoot your face." She tells me.
"Right now?" I ask. "What do you need me to do? Just sitting or doing something?"
She twists her mouth around.
"Let me think." She says. "We'll shoot it tomorrow."
I watch her go back to one of my old cameras. She clicks the buttons, flicking through the options, staring at the monitor intently. I taught her how to use it a long time ago but it was too heavy for her. A few weeks ago she asked me for it, a quick refresher course and she trotted to her window taking pictures of the sky at night.


It is raining. She asks me to go downstairs with her. I am happy to carry her tripod, to follow silently and hand her whatever she needs. I offer to shoot some behind the scenes pictures for her and she laughs. This is what she does for me now.

The rain is letting up but she finds some wet leaves to shoot instead.
I stare at her, wondering how she is dressed all in black, high top converse sneakers, leather moto jacket and unruly hair. I had nothing to do with this beyond setting an example. We buy her only what she wants to wear. I bite the inside of my cheek, seeing a miniature version of myself, awkward, trying to accomplish some invisible result. I do not hover. I do not ask to see what she is doing, just if she needs me to carry something.
"Are there any puddles?" She asks me at one point.
I crane my neck.
"Maybe later." I tell her.
She nods, motioning that we can go back upstairs.
"So what is your film about?" I ask her. "Do you know yet?"
"Not really." She offers. "Maybe just about rain."

Later, the tripod stands in the kitchen, some kind of declaration. I do the same when I am making a film, leaving my equipment in the middle of rooms, a triumphant reminder.



Comments

Incognita said…
It's so amazing to see yourself in the little things she surprises you with.
And I love the Tripod's Triumph :)

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