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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…

white nights and no place to go


The nights are bright, and cold. The drapes flip around like the ocean, drifting in and out of the windows and door frames. Trees bend heavily in a strong wind, brushing against the balcony sometimes like an intruder scratching on the glass. The rooms are fresh and clean, but the walls are somehow closing in on us. We are at the threshold of full-on summer, and we will walk these rooms until school starts.

Everyone is away, or about to be away on beaches and boats, waking up in unfamiliar beds. Summer holidays, a guaranteed trip to somewhere, if only to a shed in the woods surrounded by mosquitoes. No, we are here and the wind is blowing harder. E is asleep, her feet wrapped tight with her red blanket, arms crossed underneath, just her face poking out. N and V are in the big bed, the one that I fixed from squeaking last week. I see her tiny hand in the air, moving as she dreams some impossible baby dream. N, her glasses falling from her face but I will leave them there because if I try to take them all the way off she may wake up.

I pour myself the last of some ancient, dusty bottle of bourbon over a few ice cubes. They hiss and click in the glass until they find some sort of order.

There is a stack of pages to edit, pages I have avoided reading for more than two years now. The fountain pen is there, full and ready. I am lost between hope and fear about what lives there, if changing the names will make any difference. I have wrapped this book as tightly around myself as E does with that red blanket. I wonder if there is any breath left in it, any sparks or fireworks, any electric jolts.



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