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you are not there

We are taking the little one for a ride on her new sled. It is bright orange, with a fuzzy black and white seat cover to keep her extra warm. Her tiny hands in tiny gloves hold the sides as tight as she can. I pull her down a path, shouting "woohooo" and then she replies "woohoo". N's turn is next, pulling her more schoolgirl than mother for a few minutes. There are other parents with children on sleds passing us. Their eyes straight forward, faces completely blank they slip by in silence. I flash a smile to them, and they do not even look at me. I am not there, just another tree leaning towards the stream that runs below.

There are ducks still, flapping around the brackish water and we throw pieces of stale bread to them. I start to think, not about the complete absence of smiles in this culture. I stopped asking about that long ago, told over and again that smiles are reserved for home, behind closed doors. But I wonder, for the children -  these wiggling bu…

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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