Today is a bad day for reasons days are sometimes bad.
It is Victory Day! For Russia. And victory for one, is defeat for another, so I’m probably not high on the list of people vying for the worst 9th of May in history. But, I’ll be damned if bad days care much for history.
Young soldiers walk the streets, holding pictures of dead soldiers, with their sons, dressed as soldiers. I’m not opposed to violence. I’m not for it. I don’t understand it; maybe if my father beat me, or if I stuck up for myself in high school. People are wearing funny hats.
Everyone is happy, considerate, even the hippos. The air is still and respectful. I walk through the mess of chatting meat. I make my way past the Winter Palace, up beside the Neva. It is the first time I’m not walking arm in arm with a stranger. There is a staircase to the water. A lip in the wall is big enough for two. An old woman, not quite old enough to be a babushka, sits. She is folding a piece of paper, deftly, carefully, painstaking. She has a blue scarf around her head. I look out over the Neva, thinking about all the reasons it’s a bad day. It starts to snow, somehow.
The woman beside me stands up. The paper has been folded into a neat little boat. There is writing on the side. I don’t catch it. She undoes her scarf and walks down to the water; the boats have been pissing it off all day. Small waves flop over her shoes.
Still, she bends down, places the little paper boat in the water.
I watch it. It goes out, it comes in. A little wave places it gently between her feet. She picks it up, tosses it further.
Yet again, it comes back; this time it perches on one of her soggy pink shoes. She bends down, she picks it up, it is heavier now.
This time when she tosses it, she turns and walks past me, up the stairs. She is gone.
I watch the little boat crash over and over into the stairs, absent of shoes.
It struggles, over and over, getting wetter and wetter until it runs out of breath, crumbles, and sinks.