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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…

almost


Things are slipping though my fingers. I can see them, just out of reach as they twirl in the dark. Almost, an almost. And yet at the same time, a full life, days crammed with blessings and laughter. Nights dancing in the kitchen, the baby rocking wildly in her chair, E with her big eyes in mid-thought, N with her Mona Lisa smile. A bottle of wine cracked open, special glasses on the table. There is no way to complain about anything. Impossible.

The life of the reluctant expat is a series of lessons. The opportunities are distant and slim. You have to carve them out with your bare hands if you want something to happen. At the same time, there are no distractions here. The work is that of a hermit, of messages in bottles floating inside a bubble on the other side of the moon. The unheard story, the whispered idea.










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