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Albino (part one)

I began writing Albino two million years ago. I had an editor then, who lived a few blocks away. We would meet for breakfast on Avenue A, quietly forking into home fries as we discussed the structure of the story - the economy of objects. A dollar bill was not just a dollar bill in this story, it was connected to thought and action, to music and transformation. This was the story that told me there was a whole book to dig into, mining for diamonds in the backwaters of America, turning over the ugliest rocks to better understand relationships between fathers and sons.

Last week, I stumbled across a call for submissions - not for a journal, but for a podcast where the work of new writers was read aloud. I thought back to a reading I had done of just the first few pages of Albino - a messy hero's journey,  a young man and a guitar, a man with loss and regret, a man that still had something to lose. That reading went well, enough that I felt a strange elation stepping off the stage i…

(no) Godfather pasta

E is suddenly cold, sitting on a bench outside the church. I lay my jacket across her legs and sit next to her. We are the first ones here. N's heels click against the old bricks as she leans around the corner to see if anyone is coming. A child plays in an empty playground close to us. A young woman with her hair wrapped in a scarf whisks across the uneven ground, crossing herself three times on the threshold. Hand to forehead, then down, then to the right shoulder then to the left.
Everything is opposite here, unless you are Greek.

The rest of the family arrives in twos and threes. Children, grandmothers, teenagers, fathers, mothers without makeup on. The baby is wrapped in a perfect white blanket and is quiet. Faces pull close, looking at pink cheeks and tiny hands. It is time to go inside.

The mother sits in a hallway, hands folded in her lap. She must wait here, watching from a distance as we stand with long thin candles in our hands, unlit. The priest is young, with no beard. The room is small, the walls crammed with icons and paintings, some under glass. E looks up at me, holding her candle. Her breath smells terrible.
"Did you really brush you teeth today?" I whisper to her.
She nods slowly.
"Maybe I need to use more toothpaste." She offers, after a moment.
The baby wakes up, crying out once.
People are crossing themselves in random waves as the old words are sung. E looks up at me again as I join them.
She leans towards me.
"I want to learn to do that like you do." She says.
I rest a hand on her shoulder, kiss the top of her head.
"We'll talk about it later, ok?" I answer. "Just think good thoughts. We are here to wish the baby a good life."
She nods, serious.
I smile to myself.
She leans into me.
"What?" She asks.
I am remembering when E was baptized in New York, and how I wished for her, how I asked for her to have a beautiful, interesting life.
"I'll tell you later." I whisper back.

The candles are being lit. N leans hers against mine, and then E leans hers in as well as the flames combine and dance in the breeze.

After the ceremony and the photographs, E is starving. We walk out first, finding a fruit cart where I buy her a banana and then some corn that looks good.
"I don't know why I want a banana, but I do." She admits, laughing through the soft fruit in her cheeks.

N drops us off at home and goes to work.

Upstairs, we sit at the kitchen table while I have a late coffee.
"So, now the baby is protected?" E asks me.
"That's what some people believe." I tell her.
"But do you believe that?" E asks.
"Well, what I believe is only for me. I don't want to have anyone else think what I do. They need to decide for themselves." I answer.
"But, just tell me." E continues.
"Well, today the baby got a Godfather and a Godmother, and a whole room full of people including you and me wished him a lot of nice things." I say. "That's something good, right?"
E nods once.
She looks out the window at a train rolling slowly into the station.
"Do I have a Godfather or a Godmother?" She asks.
I take in a breath, letting it out slowly.
I sip from the red coffee cup.
"Honestly, no." I tell her. "It was not possible then, and there was no one who could really do the job."
"You mean no one good enough?" She asks.
"Something like that." I reply. "No one we knew who could do that. It's a long story"
"Ok." She mumbles.
"Do you want them?" I ask.
She shakes her head, chin on the table now.
"I just need you." She says, coming to stand next to me and squeezing my arm.
I think about that messy year in Connecticut and how it feels like a different lifetime now. I think of carrying E in that brown cotton sling every day as we walked up Greenwich Avenue past the stores, how people nodded and smiled and craned their heads to see the baby. Up to the market to buy things for dinner then back down, weaving through the side streets, maybe stopping for a bottle of wine, maybe her waking up there and me rocking her back and forth saying goodbye to the owner and his wife. Me turning corners with E slumped against me, past the old folk's home, past the oak tree and back inside where I would cook.
"We can make fresh pasta tonight, ok?" I ask her and she lifts her head from my shoulder as she thinks.
"Ok." She says. "I can even take your picture."


liv said…
A lovely post. How nice to see a rare shot of the maestro. Tell her she did really well with the camera!

She may not have godparents, but she sure has a whole lot of people wishing her a happy and beautiful life.

ps - pasta looks perfect, not too wide, not to thin!

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