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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 …

miniatures (a storm)


A wind comes up from nowhere, flipping the drapes all the way outside the windows. The sky flashes, dead silent. No thunder, no delayed crash and crackle. Just fingers of electricity drawing briefly, shooting up into the clouds, drawing down to the trees. The clouds pulse, backlit, as if bombs are going off in the distance. It feels like a silent war has begun.

We stand at the windows. E is wide awake, her face turning up to mine, her eyes wide. N tiptoes in, and tells us to stand back from the balcony, that it is not safe.

The baby is still sleeping somehow.

Trees are bending hard. The smell of ozone and smoke is drifting up to us.

The rain does come, with little patters and then cupfuls. I close all of the windows tight, my feet wet from what has come in already. Thunder finally cracks, the first sound in half an hour to come from that bright sky. There will be a flash flood, a night of drops smacking against the windows like little bells.

I fall asleep to this sound, knowing E is warm under her red blanket, seeing V twist in her sleep, her legs caught in some briefly imagined infant ballet for a moment, then folding back to her side. N is curled next to her, an arm bent to keep the baby close, so that she senses that little touch of skin on skin, just brushing elbows, that miniature connection that lets us feel that everything will be ok.

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