I only realized in hindsight how close she’d come to killing me. One day, how many years later was that, I suddenly had to think—and how long had it been since either of them had crossed my mind—of course, of course, she was pondering it all the while, imagining sending me sailing straight off the cliff with one good, hard push, wasn’t she, and no one would have ever been able to prove that it hadn’t been an accident, she and I walking along a narrow path cut into the side of the steep bluff, and I losing my footing and stumbling before she’d had a chance to grab hold of my arm and prevent me from plummeting to my death. She’d be in tears, or in shock, a slender woman in a light summer dress and sandals, and who would have expected it of her, given the sheer difference in size and strength, expected her to save the life of this gangly young man, and the policemen would have been more concerned with consoling the traumatized witness to a tragic accident than worrying about me, because I would have been dead as a doornail by then, wouldn’t I.

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It’s a Monday. Georgia will be heading to the garden. One of the first things she did after getting

out of prison was to start a community garden. There was an empty lot behind a chain-link fence, overrun with weeds, crabgrass, dandelion root. The elevated subway platform runs right over it, basically. So she got a lot of people to volunteer by stapling up fliers everywhere and a community was formed. She got dozens of people to start freezing their vegetable waste in plastic bags and then to bring it over to the garden for composting in giant bins. The Times interviewed her about it for the Metro section but she left out the prison part. I picture Faith wearing a red bandana working in the garden with Boomerang, sweet talking him, telling him about soy farmers de-foresting the rainforest. I pictured her putting round peppers in her purse pocket without anybody knowing. I carry my skateboard off the train, go to class and tell everybody that I think Madame Bovary’s intro speech was a piece of shit even though I loved that chapter.

When I get back to my apartment, Georgia is frying seitan in an iron skillet we didn’t used to own.

“I got you guys this kitchen stuff,” Faith says, smiling.

On the counter are jam jars filled with things, with sugar, with sea salt crystals.

“I got a job,” she says to me. “Bartending in Alphabet City.”


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Jeez, Mama, you could have told me. I stood there next to the hospital bed and looked out the

window at a concrete foundation being laid for a building about to go up on the other side of the street until I suddenly realized that I’d walked along that long construction fence plastered with notices just a few minutes ago, without the slightest thought as to what might lie behind it, and here I am on the fourth floor now looking down at the entire scene, the Caterpillar parked at the far end of the muddy field and the deep curves of tracks going this way and that, and then I look at the faces of people hurrying past, their steps pounding across the wooden planks as they squeeze by one another without the slightest curiosity about what might lie just beyond that fence, without the slightest inkling that a whole huge space is right there on the other side, spreading out to the farthest end of the city block, but isn’t that how we live our lives, anyway? Not the slightest inkling of what might be right there, at arm’s reach. 


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