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A Blessing

Every night almost, now, I am on the same train at the same time to Stillwell ave. I am one of those hopeful looking people panting up the subway steps, to catch a particular car. And I see the same people doing the same, people who have lives that synchronize with mine. I have made two friends, so far. One is a friendly woman about my age, who texts with me about Trump and bra shopping. We have plans to go to protests together, to go to the beach.

My other new friend is a little more mysterious, evocative of the past for me. I do not yet know his name. (It is not the sort of thing that one can always just ask.) He is, I would guess, 3. I see him, every night, bundled into his heavy coat, a serious black coat meant to last the winter and beyond. It has room to grow, it is down to his knees. When he is done with it, no doubt it will go to his sister-- who is a soundless wrapped bundle in the stroller. Their mother gets off at Stillwell too, so they ride with me all the way. She is limp with exhaustion, her dark brown face slack, She leans against the wall, boneless in her own heavy coat. Her hand is on him, making sure of him, every night. Her foot is against the locked wheel of the stroller. But she forces an eye open every night, to check on him, to check on the baby. She can doze but that is all.

Most nights he is asleep against her side. Most nights he is so out that she has to steer him when they leave. Small child's sleep is flexible, he walks at her instruction, with his eyes shut.

But last night he was awake. I sat down next to him. He was playing some game with his hands, pretending, making that little voice that little kids make when they are doing characters. I think I must have made my near hand a character too and said something in that 'nnnr-nnr' not really voice.

"I think you should take me to Chuckee-Cheese," He said. "We would have fun."

"You like Chuckee-Cheese?" I said.

"It is my best place!" His fingers spread out stiff with excitement as he said this. His mouth opened in a big smile, showing all his baby teeth.

"What do you like about it?" I said.

This was too much-- he shook his head, eyes wide.

"I bet I know," I said. "You like the games, and the lights, and the pizza, and you can run and make lots of noise?"

His mother opened one eye, wearily. She gave me a slight nod.

"When I get home I am going to eat lolipops!" He said. This did not seem likely.

"Lolipops are great," I said. "But more for the middle of the day. At night they make your teeth all sticky." His mother gave a slight smile.

So we talked, a few more minutes, and it was time to go. He held his hand out to me. His fingers made a curved shape in the air. I held my hand out cupped. He set the imaginary something into my hand. Not knowing what he intended, I ate it.

"It is a blessing," he said. "It tastes like bananas."

Tonight I may ask his name.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 26th, 2017 01:48 pm (UTC)
That was lovely. Thanks for sharing. I used to ride the MBTA in Boston when younger and again with nanny kids when older. I love having conversations with kids (and others). I think most kids enjoy the 'diversion' and Moms generally enjoy a little break from answering 3,000 questions, when all they want is a little Peace & Quiet. With nanny kids (and others), I enjoyed playing 20 questions. You know the game? "I'm thinking of an animal." "Does it have 4 feet?",etc. Once, my answer was 'snake', and of course, it didn't have 2 feet or four feet, and the kids were stumped. The man standing in front of us said "Please get the answer quick! I have to get off at the next stop and it will drive me crazy not to know!!"
Jan. 26th, 2017 02:55 pm (UTC)
I don't know which is more precious, your young friend and his blessing, or your observation and immortalization of him. Perhaps you could print that little story out and give it to his mother to keep. Her memory of the moment will soon be overwritten by the next moment, and the next, and the exhaustion overlaying it all. Someday she will find the little story of the blessing she had forgotten, and she will cry and remember.
Jan. 26th, 2017 03:15 pm (UTC)
Good idea!
Jan. 26th, 2017 10:11 pm (UTC)
Aw that is sweet :) I get a few comments from passers by about the little fella when we are out and about and I always love it
Jan. 27th, 2017 11:44 am (UTC)
Oh, how lovely. Am all tearful now. xx
Jan. 28th, 2017 05:03 am (UTC)
A sketch of everyday urban life, extraordinarily well done.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )