Night Games by Susan Firer
In the early 50's shoe stores, after you put on the new ones, you went over to the machine & put your feet into the mouse- hole shaped foot holes & looked into Flash Gordon viewer on top of the juke-box sized machine you were pressed against. And you could see through the stiff leather, through the shoes, through your socks. It was spectacular, Superman X-ray vision in a shoe store. And I always wanted to rip the viewer from its downward glance. Why look at feet? I wanted a shortcut to the souls of those around me. I wanted to look into all their broken, damaged hearts & stir the crayon soup I imagined there, secret as the inside of my mother's silk-lined purse, my father's fireproof lock up. In the fall, after dinner, new school shoes off, the wind carried bits of fire. I'd wing my sister's artery blue 45's through the sparked air. "Teen Angel" whoosh. Restless, I'd pretend blindness, limp maimed into the coming dark, waiting for the others to finish dinner & start the divining rod children's night games, which were our true teachers: statue maker, blind man's bluff, pickle, hide `n' seek, 50 all scatter, ghosts in the grave yard. There was a gold angel holy water font on my bedroom wall, right above the light switch. Barefoot at night, before we slept, we touched the blessed water in the Sign Of The Cross to our foreheads, hearts, and shoulders. In the beautiful lost troubles of childhood- cinema dreams, in those sparky, dusty beds, people we loved and had already lost: war-lost uncles, cancer-lost aunts, rocking chair dead grandmas, dead baby brothers, and sweet pea cooking, car-killed neighbors, all stopped by, bent over, and kissed our holy water touched foreheads and hearts. They came smelling like the inside of lit October, like just blown out orange candles. In winter red birds flew into our house through one of the three, small, round holes cut into the bottom of each of our houses' storm windows. We never shut the storm windows' wooden slats. We liked the excitement and mystery of housed, winter-berry-red lost birds.
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