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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…

old farts and accordions

I pull E's hair into a fresh ponytail, realizing I have forgotten a comb. The room is cold. Other children sit with their hands folded in their laps, guitars propped up against the backs of chairs. The door swings open and Roman stomps into the room, waving his hands. 

We make our way through the dark hallway with the flickering florescent light and then into the miniature concert hall. An old man sits in a chair in front of the stage, a haphazard collection of medals dangling from his blue suit jacket. His eyes are wet. A woman takes flash photographs of him as he looks half asleep then suddenly waves one giant, rough hand in the air until an old woman joins him. There are a few more pictures.

Everyone sits. The man and the old woman are right in front of us. I stare at her thin silver hair, wetted down and pulled across the back of her head. The pink skin of her scalp shines beneath it. He leans to one side and produces a long, quiet fart. E turns to look at me, half annoyed, half amused.

A girl plays piano first. There is light applause as she finishes.

Next, a boy with a giant red accordion. He plays methodically, chin nodding in tempo. At one point he gets lost, and replays a section, then stops. He starts again, fighting the clicking keys. He stops once more, a long pause. The old man whispers something to the old woman. He repeats it, louder. The boy tries once more and erupts in tears, leaping from the stage with the accordion thumping against his chest. He goes straight out the door. Everyone claps, making sweet noises, sympathetic words jumping from mouths but he is already gone.
"They were clapping a lot to make him feel better." E whispers to me.
I nod.
"But maybe he thought they were clapping to be mean." She adds.
"Then he is very silly." I whisper back.
She nods, wrinkling her nose up and pointing at the old man.
I roll my eyes and she tries not to laugh too loud.

A boy plays the flute and then it is E's turn.

She plays fine, not as loud as she could, hesitating just once. She bows with her chin to her chest and skips back to her seat.

The old man is whispering louder and louder. I think the old woman cannot hear him, even when his mouth is right next to her ear. The fidgeting room disintegrates into people talking on phones in low voices.






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