The room is dark and smells of disinfected pee with a hint of vanilla. Eleanor Barney must be here. Most of us have been wheeled into places and parked facing the screen but younger people with red ears are crowded onto folding chairs, noisy with outdoor talk, coats in their laps. Later I will count how many. These two by my side keep looking at me and touching my arm. They must want Christmas bonuses. The movie is something old somebody old must have chosen. When somebody new sits down and isn’t careful the chair shrieks against the floor. Three rubber feet it has but one is missing and behind that fourth foot the tile is menacingly scraped. There will be trouble over that. Shavings of linoleum curl in smoldering ringlets ahead of the foot. They smell of hot plastic. Tomorrow I will check to see if anyone has swept this floor. A black and white snow is falling on a black and white city neighborhood. I beg the camera to turn right with the trolley and show me my old street. I dash up the front steps and race to the kitchen shedding snow from my shoulders and snatch a cookie from the shelf and bite it firmly in half. I run to the bedroom I share with my brothers and steam the window with my breath looking out. Snow has whitened the windowsill. Tomorrow I will make a snowball with this snow. A huge overcoat with white beard fills the screen. Someone is whimpering. Look out! These two by my side are asking me if I’m all right. There will be trouble over that cookie. I cover my head to protect myself from blows that bluster down. If I’m given another chance, I’ll eat the other half.

Copyright © December 31, 2007 David Hodges

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