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you are not there

We are taking the little one for a ride on her new sled. It is bright orange, with a fuzzy black and white seat cover to keep her extra warm. Her tiny hands in tiny gloves hold the sides as tight as she can. I pull her down a path, shouting "woohooo" and then she replies "woohoo". N's turn is next, pulling her more schoolgirl than mother for a few minutes. There are other parents with children on sleds passing us. Their eyes straight forward, faces completely blank they slip by in silence. I flash a smile to them, and they do not even look at me. I am not there, just another tree leaning towards the stream that runs below.

There are ducks still, flapping around the brackish water and we throw pieces of stale bread to them. I start to think, not about the complete absence of smiles in this culture. I stopped asking about that long ago, told over and again that smiles are reserved for home, behind closed doors. But I wonder, for the children -  these wiggling bu…

an early Sunday morning

In the darkness, I see a broken piano by the front door. It stands half-ripped open, naked, crooked. The snow is piling up around its feet. I shrug off a shiver, and bring the equipment to the car. Alexander is waiting, and we have to drive for a few hours.

The ride is mostly silent, the actor Egor in the back seat. We make small talk. The camera rests on my lap and sometimes I yank it up to the window, shooting the dark, blurry landscape as it swishes past us. Slender trees, heaves of blue snow, clouds in the distance, the little dots of light that are houses, people surely sleeping there under warm blankets.

We turn onto a small road as the sky grows bright. There are airplanes covered in cloth, straps flapping around in a steep wind. Out of the car, stretching our legs I am ready to shoot an arrival shot, a shoe leather shot as they used to be called.




The morning goes quickly. Egor has good instincts. The location is perfect, all soft light and tender corners. I take a deep breath and let it out, packing up the camera. I call home. Everyone is just waking up.

It is good to get out of the city, I tell myself. The nerves, the fury, the desperation that I did not know were in my blood - they are vented now, drifting off into that giant white sky. Head lowered, we walk and chew an endless gristle without even knowing it.








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