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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 …

messy clocks (to be seen)


The walk to school in the morning happens in darkness now. E's hands are shoved into her pockets, boots dragging across the dry, cold asphalt. We talk very little, maybe about what I should make for dinner. How many times back and forth across this little park, the fountains turned off now? How many times across this intersection, where the cars run three or four at a time through the red light no matter how many policemen are watching? We have both lost count.

I follow the faces to keep myself sane. There is of course the man who plays accordion in the underpass, but he appears randomly. There are people we pass every day, like a messy clock. The woman with the face like a potato that begs for loose change. She crosses herself every time a person passes, eyes lowered, standing perfectly still. I saw her in the street once, hands waving around, laughing. The exact opposite of the persona she shares in the dim fluorescent light of this wet tunnel.

There is the school nurse, short with red hair going grey who pretends she does not know who I am. There is a school teacher for a different class of fourth graders who does the same. There is a young woman who helps the children get downstairs and put their coats on. We would call her a recess aide back home. Her face is round, legs like a piano but she still wears skirts and boots with spike heels. She also looks down as we pass each other every morning.

A man with long grey hair and sneakers walks quickly. He lights a cigarette without stopping, shoulders flung back, chest pressing into the cold air.

A woman with long dark hair does not walk. She swishes. She wobbles on high heels, some odd smug look painted large on her face. The path littered with dead leaves is her catwalk. Chin poking out, eyes, half-lowered she does look at me sideways as I pass her. Maybe she sees the paper clip I fixed my parka zipper with. Maybe she thinks I should get a shave. Maybe she just likes to be seen.




Comments

liv said…
Just another day in paradise.

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