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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 …

pianos (a different life)




There is a strange hush over the neighborhood. Each overcast weekday feels like a misplaced Sunday morning. The ground wet, the leaves yellow and beginning to rot, the cars puttering through the puddles all become a little symphony. Old women carry plastic bags of carrots and potatoes. There are babies in muddy strollers, most of them asleep. 

The wind does not howl. The crows are still acting wild. barking in little packs in the tree tops.

There is a pile of pages, a towering stack of them, neatly lined up on my little white desk. The pen sits ready. A cup of good coffee is growing lukewarm. I have already begun to accept the new name of this book, Papa on the Moon. 

The door bell rings.

Typically it is a salesman, or shady looking people offering cheap internet service. I ignore the ring most of the time, and then tiptoe to the peephole, deciding if the silhouette in the hallway is dangerous or not. I rarely open the door anyway. Whatever it is, we don't need it.

The bell rings, over and over. I grit my teeth, and open the door. It is a policeman, his automatic rifle swinging from his neck. He is not so tall, his hat cocked loose on his head. He speaks quickly and I try to explain that I can only understand about half of what he is saying. "A man" he says over and over. And then our apartment number. I think he is saying the man is drunk and that he is our neighbor, or that he has a piano and he says I am playing the piano too loud, or maybe he is our landlord and he is drunk and says we have a piano. But there is no piano in our apartment.

I offer to call N, to get some translation but he shakes his head, waves his hand for me to follow him. I take my documents, lock the door. We go up a few floors in the narrow elevator. I cannot imagine what is going on now. There are paramedics in the stairwell, and another policeman. A man with black hair stands in the center of them. He could be from Azerbaijan, maybe Tajikistan. A plastic half-gallon jug of beer sits on the dirty tile floor at his feet. 

I begin to guess that the drunk guy said he was coming to see me. There are quick words. Obviously he has no idea who I am. The policemen tells me to forget it. They got the wrong apartment number I guess. The man with black hair wobbles on skinny legs and looks at me with giant sad eyes.

Back downstairs, I lock the door. sit back down, and stare at the pile of pages, these old stories from a different life.




Comments

liv said…
And you returned to cold coffee
A fresh cup is absolutely called for!

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