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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…

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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