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the first

The yarmarka (farmer's market) is about to close. Some of the people are already packing up, offering their last bruised tomatoes at half-price to anyone walking past them.  I am wandering, staring at bunches of herbs, at the same old options - cabbage, pepper, potato, garlic, apple, cucumber. But then I see a pile of peas. The season must have come early this year. I buy a kilo, and some mint. I know what is for dinner. We have not had it in eleven months.

At home, I rip the bag open, showing them to V. She stands by the kitchen table, eyes wide. I crack one open, showing her the little rounds inside. She plucks one out, her pinky pointing to the ceiling.
"Try it." I tell her.
She does, but she does not like it.

I pull out a bowl for them. She jumps up and down a few times. V always wants to help in the kitchen. I pull her to my lap, and we begin pulling them out from the shells. She learns quickly, tossing them with a flourish into the bowl, a few cascading to the flo…

Where is Valery?

I am sitting with E on the bench in front of our house. An old man wobbles towards us and mumbles something. I get the name Valery from it. I guess he is asking for him, where he might be. I ask E what he is saying and she shrugs her shoulders. He looks at us with big wet eyes, his shoulders hanging slack, jeans hiked up with no belt on them, his shoes those big pillow-shaped old people shoes. I shake my head no, apologizing. 

He stands for some time.

Our taxi arrives and we are off. He spins to us, surprised. Maybe he thought we said we knew this Valery. Maybe he thought we told him Valery was coming soon. 




When we come back, there is a cane leaning against the wall under the mailboxes. E has to pee and we have negotiated who gets the bathroom first but I am kneeling on the dirty floor, taking a picture instead. E rolls her eyes.

"Art first!" I announce, jumping into the elevator.

Upstairs I stare at the picture. I tell E I am going back downstairs just for a minute.

The Leica in my hands, my meter in the other I see the cane as the doors slide open with their messy clang. Someone is cooking peppers, and the hall sends out that bitter, green smell.

I breathe slowly, holding it in once I click the shutter. This removes my body's vibrations, lets things be a little bit sharper. Two frames and I reach the end of the roll. I think to go back and load a fresh one but then ask myself if I got it. I go back, twisting the little lever, rewinding the film already.

Later, we go out for milk and eggs and the cane is gone.





Comments

jeannine nye said…
I discovered you through another blogger a while ago, and I am so pleased to read your latest post.. you make life so interesting and manage to convey all the little nuances that make up your day... It must be difficult bringing up a little girl on your own, in fact being a single parent for boy or girl would be hard.. but you seem to embrace all your adventures so happily and I am sure that you are building great memories for your little girl to savour in the future as an adult. I guess you are there for the long term, but hats off to you, you seem to be doing a smashing job.... Do you miss your family in America? I have two of my five kids living abroad.. one in Canada, and the other in Australia.. it broke my heart to see them leave, but it was their road to travel,and despite the cost of airfares I have managed to get to see them, plus of course facebook time to catch up all the news.. keep the stories coming and I shall be back to read them... all the very best from UK.. J

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