February 19, 2011

Like Moss, Mama Said

I loathe him. I eat his food grudgingly.

Mira knows this.

Pulling on her right ear lobe, she asks “But why?”

She is trying on a new face today.

Yesterday, she was pulling at her chin. She likes to research the effect on other people. I act like I don’t notice, so she always perfects her art with me without worrying about losing the new-ness.

“Mama told me to never trust a man with a wandering eye” I answer, after a pause.

She removes her hand from her ear, considering. I know what she wants to ask.
Instead, she goes with “He is harmless though. And he really cares about us. All of us. Doesn’t karma dictate that you should be nicer to him?”

No one could stand him, with his annoying nervous tics and bad jokes that everyone laughed at anyway, because it is ill-mannered to ignore your savior. The whole world is a hypocrite, and they are out to recruit me. Don’t be a hypocrite, Mama had said.

“No, it states that you are the sum of all your actions, from past lives until this moment, and what you choose to do – good or evil deeds, will determine the balance going forward. Maybe he owes me a debt from a past life” I shrug, and continue, answering her unasked question. “I remember everything my Mama told me, right until she left. She taught me everything I would need to know.”

She had begun teaching me from the womb. She talked to me, and I learned to listen, and remember. She told me to. She said she wouldn’t be around to teach me a second time. My brother, no, half-brother because no one knew who our fathers were, was let free when he was only five. I was three at the time. A band of gypsies had come to town, and she left him with them and took me with her to a different town.

My brother had blue-green eyes, same as me, same as her. The eyes that never welled up wondering why they couldn’t all be together.

She taught me how to fend for myself, about karma, men and the world. She loved to read. I remember peeking at the pictures in encyclopedias as she sat me on her lap and read them in the silence of libraries.

Mira didn’t understand. Her parents were dead. But she knew better than to ask me questions. As the only fourteen year olds in this place, we had to stick together.

“So when you have had up to here” she gestures with her hand at her neck “will you leave?”

I can tell she is worried by that prospect. She already knows I don’t stay too long at any place. She hasn’t had a good friend in a while.

I turn away to look at the line of red ants marching on the wall from the door towards the ceiling.

When I can’t stand smiling at the annoying little man that gives us food, when Mira and I have an uncomfortably close friendship laden with expectations, I will leave.

I run my hand through the ants, forming a red line that sticks to the wall permanently with the carcasses of the ants.

“Or maybe I will kill him” I say, turning to smile wickedly at her.
She brightens up and laughs her worry away. She knows I am joking, and accepts the ambiguous answer.

“Let’s go see a movie” she says.

She knew she wanted to be an actress, so we smuggled into movies without tickets, the thrill of escaping without being caught nearly as fun as the movie itself.

“And the library afterward” I add. Maybe I will see a pair of blue-green eyes. My Mama, or perhaps a half-sibling. I am certain they will all have blue-green eyes, and love to read. She would have told us all so. We are like moss, without roots.

We stop to check ourselves in a shop window.

Mira pulls on her right earlobe.

I wonder what Mira will do once she has exhausted all manner of expression. Maybe she will scratch her armpit.

I would love to see everyone’s reaction to that.

But is it worth sticking around for?

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