My (re) version
So here is my version: the two girls came, nudging and daring each other.
Shy, hips cocked into bikes, their hair tied back. They had seen the basket
of kittens I kept sunning on the porch.
I had found them abandoned near the market where I bought my goods.
One was striped brown and the rest were black and white.
I washed them down and fed them every few hours. I had nothing better to
Both of them were disappointed by my lack of gruffness, my simple explanation.
I went out and bought lemonade that afternoon and fizzy water.
They were good together, Susan and Liz, both in fifth grade. We three would
drink lemonade on the porch and Susan would tell me of her friends and enemies,
Liz would hang back and then offer up her version when Susan paused. They
were still too shy to eat with me, backed off at a sandwich--food was some
sort of invisible border of familiarity we never crossed. I was handling
deer at the zoo. Delicate, nervy things that dodged but leaped awkwardly
about me. Susan even told me about this boy she tortured. His name was Mark.
He had dark cropped hair. Like mine, she said.
When she said this, I felt a curious twinge, a sharp pain running from my
shoulder to the center of my chest. Mark and I both had dark hair. How sweet
it was to be told this, this trivial detail about a boy I would never meet.
How sweet to be sitting there, head tilted, letting their voices trickling
into my head. It was a senseless happiness, the sort I felt long ago, sitting
in an abandoned elevator with Mika, waiting for the ruby hour.
But at other times I was sure they saw only each other, I was far too old
for them, I was something apart from them. At such moments, they would walk
away with the surety that they were going to be friends for a long time,
much to the annoyance of girls who did not have such things, and men who
lived on air, whispering.
I would find such moments painful. What would they do if the other moved
away? Would they be each a torn and living half? How would they be parted?
Who would console them at this age?
I knew Susan and Liz for two months.
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