Small Reckonings.

I’m sitting in the back of the school library on the wall heater when a friend I haven’t seen for years walks in. A large school board meeting has started, and we whisper to each other until I suggest we leave and talk. Early evening, the school is empty, and turn on the lights in a room where my daughters both had classes. I pull out two chairs from the student tables.

Almost immediately, we start in on what should be a simple math problem — March 2023 to March 2020 — which yields an unbelievable three. Before the pandemic we worked together and spent hours talking about literacy and kids, about schools and families, but we also talked about canning tomatoes, about parenting, and being women. We ask how this or that turned out for each other — some decisions, some simply a bend in circumstance.

By the time we leave, the school has completely emptied out for the night. The weather has turned mild, and we walk slowly under the dim lamplight to our cars. A mist rises over the soccer field. I get in my car and drive down the hill and across the river and up the hill to my house. The village lights sparkle in the mist. The moon edges around a break in the clouds. In the darkness I stand there, thinking about the numbers we put together, marking places in our lives, then adding and subtracting our lives—people and jobs and books and houses. The numbers all mesh together, consumed in our shared stories.

4 thoughts on “Small Reckonings.

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