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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 …

a series of surprises


We all live complicated lives. There is always a cross to bear, a stone that swings from our necks. Maybe every single one of us became Sisyphus in the middle of some sleepless night and just don't want to admit it. I cannot imagine a person who does not have some obstacle, some ladder to climb in the darkness on an endless loop.

But that is just life.

I met a girl, well a woman some years ago. She arrived in the strangest way, by such a series of chance events that it makes me dizzy to think about how easily we could not have crossed paths that curious and cold January night. But we did, and that is all that matters. At some point, you get lucky. As the saying goes, even a broken clock is right two times a day. And honestly, I was a broken clock when she found me.

So yes, she helps me carry my stones and of course I try to carry some of hers. By some curious math, the daily hustle gets easier. The stones add up to less than the sum of their parts this way. I don't try to overthink that.

She always smells like a million dollars. She still trounces from room to room like a little girl, skipping to a class she is late for. She cracks her gum, blows bubbles, makes wisecracks. Yes, she is that girl. I suspect if we met as teenagers things might end up about the same. She would tease me incessantly, foul words flying from her sharp tongue, eyes big and darting at my every advance. I would bring her flowers maybe, or some handmade necklace. I can imagine the eye rolls, the hot flush on her cheeks of embarrassment, that skipping away in brand new sneakers that squeak on the floors.

Today is our anniversary, married three years now. I took care of the presents because she has her hands full with the baby. I like to surprise her, even with what she bought for me.


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