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the lost years

I spent almost 25 years living alone in New York. There might be a moment on a shoot, when it became clear we would be running late. Phones were slid from pockets, as the crew had hushed conversations with their loved ones. That solemn, apologetic tone was the same no matter who was talking as they answered the question "When will you be home?" I had no one, nothing but an empty apartment and some dirty dishes. I had half-written books, and guitars leaning against the walls. There was film in the cameras, waiting to be developed.

I have almost no memory of these years now.

Right now, V is sick. Nothing terrible, but enough to stay home and parade around the apartment in her favorite pyjamas. N is cooking various treats for her, unable to predict which one she will actually eat. The doorbell rings, and it might be a doctor visiting from the local clinic but it is her sister. The rooms are full of conversation and fresh cups of coffee. I try not to step on the toys that are a…

the rose seller's screams

The oldest woman is screaming, her bent cart toppled to one side as roses splay across the dirty parking lot. She is huge. In her long thick coat she is as grey and monstrous as a battleship. One of the younger rose sellers is her daughter, but I do not see her. I walk quickly, not turning or lingering to find out what the fight is about. I hear her voice, loud, fierce, fingering into the quiet, wet morning. It swells to that pitch that touches on pain and desperation and anger and gives me goosebumps. I know that sound all too well.

My eyes are wet, and I am wiping my face as I pass E's teacher who says a quick good morning without slowing down. I must look like I burst into tears after I drop her off, and I want to laugh once at myself. I blame it on the wind whipping up from the river.

Downstairs in the produkte I am waiting to buy milk, in an early morning line behind a collection of men that smell of vodka and cigarettes. They dig into their pockets for loose change, counting out rubles on the glass countertop to buy tiny packets of mayonnaise, and cheap sausages, short vodka bottles and miniature loaves of black bread. It is quiet in here, the women in blue aprons behind the counters, faces blank then ducking in back to smoke cigarettes and make everyone wait. I guess these men are security guards, men at front desks who ask for documents and write passport numbers down in notebooks and then wave you inside.

The nice lady who sells potatoes and frozen cherries is not here, but even her alternate recognizes me. She nods once as I leave, her round face bobbing behind the counter.

There is something about the lives they are leading, I tell myself as I enter the elevator. My face stares back at me, cheeks red and wet. It is like bone grinding against bone.


Comments

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