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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 …

the ocean waits

You smell it first, then feel something ride along your skin - the salt, the sense of things wet and green, of bits of seaweed. Then a little shiver runs up the back of your neck, realizing how long it has been since you stood in the sand at the water’s edge, the lapping sound at the edges, the rustle of weeds in a low breeze. It will take some time, standing here to put everything in its place and for once, there is no rush. 

Tiny dark tails are wiggling under the surface, darting schools of minnows that later turn out to be baby eels. They move like birds in the sky, graceful arcs twisting around the sandy floor and the sun is beating down hard. 

I make my way back along the little road, hearing the sound of everything. My breath and my shoes scraping on the asphalt, the trees bending, a motorcycle in the distance. 

The ocean waits. 





In the city, I find the familiar places, the loose stool at a diner late on a Sunday night and they are still making hamburgers so I order one. All at once Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes comes on, and I think of V fast asleep still and how she likes this song so much, bouncing on my side at breakfast as the music jumps around our kitchen. Everything reminds me of them, a yellow splash of graffiti on a bright wall and I know E would like this, smiling at it if she was next to me. A perfect iced coffee and an almond croissant and I sense N’s chin on my shoulder, tearing off the corner and popping it in her mouth. 

The next morning I go to the Cup and Saucer, for eggs and sausage. The same faces are there, that trapdoor behind the counter flips open and a young cook crawls up from the basement. The girl with the stray eye hands me a menu but I already know what I want, and pass me the tabasco please. I eavesdrop on conversations to both sides, men talking about their children’s weddings, talk of the weather, no politics, no drama just 80’s hits playing on the radio and air conditioning pumping into the place making the napkins flip around.  









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