Sunday, October 24, 2010

"What is it with you and men?" Lydia asks as she hands me a plate to dry.

I hate drying dishes, would much rather plunge into the warm, sudsy water. But it's my first summer in Kirkenes, and I'm staying with Lydia, and so l dry the dishes and try to answer questions. I'd rather be asking the questions.

"My father," I explain.

She hands me another plate.

"He kept leaving." l polish the plate dry.

"He loved us, but he didn't know how to stay in one place, to be happy there. He kept looking around the next corner."

Another plate comes along, and I know she's waiting.

"I like men," and now I'm sounding defensive. Hold onto the plate.

"I just don't want anyone taking so much of me away when they go."

I imagine how my mother stood in the kitchen when she got that call. I remember the ragged breath, her voice when she phoned me with the news.

"They don't all go."

"How many stay here? How many years?"

Lydia has been here three seasons--six turnings, I think. Not enough for a definitive answer. But she is dating some one, and she wants to trust this loveliness is for good.

I hope she forgives my jab. I hope she's so happy she doesn't notice. And I hope she's right.

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