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Hey, Lyosha

There are prison tattoos on the backs of his hands. Faded, blotchy shapes and a finger that jabs at a phone. "Hey, Lyosha!" He shouts, as every face on the bus swings to him. There is no answer, no voice on the other side. "Lyosha." He says again, then stares angrily out the windows. I step on someone's foot by accident, apologizing quickly. The young man waves his hand as if to say I did not need to say anything. The man with the tattoos sips from a giant cup of soda from KFC that is balanced on the empty seat next to him.

We pass a hotel we used to live next to, where expensive escorts are ferried in and out like yachts in a harbor. There is a fresh line of flags snapping in a low wind, and an American one is curiously absent. Plenty of the businessmen behind those windows are from the states.

The man brandishes the phone and hands it to the young man in front of me. I did not see that one coming. The young man wipes invisible dust from it, a reserved frown …

sometimes, yes


Late Friday night on the way back from a friend's house V falls asleep in the car seat. I am next to her, her little hand going slack in mine. N is navigating the slick, slushy lanes looking for a place to park. Under a great tree, next to shiny pipes that run above the earth as they snake through the neighborhood we get out of the car. Our movements are methodical, ginger as the baby is pulled from her seat and I pull her to my chest. Her jacket makes little squeaking sounds against mine as we walk along the wobbly ice. I think of a party I went to when I was finishing high school, all local artists and friends of my parents. There was a girl, I want to say her name was Chelsea. In any case, she fell asleep, her face resting against my arm. I found myself offering to carry her to the car, while her mother gathered their things. Her father was not there. I carried that little girl the same way, feeling those rag doll arms and legs swinging loose.

V is working against gravity, sliding down and then I gently move her face back up to my ear. We pass some unknown neighbors, no looks, no traded glances. I move slower, the ice is in lopsided stretches here. She feels heavier now. Her hair smells like fresh yellow cake. I think of so many fathers I have seen carrying children like this, solemn trophies. Is it so strange to understand I am one of them? Sometimes, yes.

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