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"Keep Buggering On"

On the desk of the room I rent, there is a photo of a girl by the name of Fiona Nicole Maynard, suspended in a black, beveled frame of wood. The photo's quite a bit out of date. In it, she is the image of an eight-year old (thus, when I say "girl", I really do mean "little girl", "kid", or "fillette"), the picture having been taken on her eighth birthday. Since then, I imagine (or hope) that she's had several more, though there's no knowing these things. I lost track some time ago, but my roughest guess would put her at thirteen or fourteen years of age -- fifteen being an outlying possibility. As for her birthday, I have only the general sense that it is (was) in the first week of January, though that could be completely wrong; I know so many people who were born in the first two weeks of the year, that I can usually start by guessing that any particular person's birthday is in there somewhere.

Fiona, gentle reader, is not my daughter. We should perhaps be clear about that. I do not, in fact, have any little (or, at this point, pubescent) bundles of my genetic materials running about loose in the world. However, I did take care of Fiona for nigh-on three years, and there lies a convoluted detour in a life.

Once upon a time, when I first moved to Montreal, I lived alongside my father and sister, a cat, and a rather large dog, in a magical land called Ville St. Laurent. Well, perhaps not magical, per se, but it was close enough to the Metro that a body could get around easily. When you're coming from the swampy suburb of a village like St-Lin-Laurentides, in which you start off no-where, have no-where to go, and would need a car to get there anyways, the fact of starting off somewhere, having somewhere to go, and a means to do so can seem a bit magical.

That, however, was a digression. To muddle along in our story, it happened that, in the next basement apartment, lived a spindly little elfin creature in a school uniform and her mother. Her mother, as it turned out, and by some assuredly well-plotted prank of the gods, was an alumnus of the same hole-in-the-ground, er... establishment of secondary education, as was I. This much was revealed when she arrived at our door on some bit of community activism while wearing an L.R.H.S. sweater. There, kindly reader, is where the ice began to break, and woe to those falling in!

Soon thereafter in the days, the elf could be spotted to wander around that not-too-well-upholstered cave in St-Laurent which was next to her own, in quite the lonely matter. By some circumstance, which I am sure the writers plotted in the most contrived manner, one yours truly ended-up with this girl-child in his apartment. How this happened, he's not too sure of. He wasn't terribly well-groomed in those days, so how in the world his visage might have registered as "someone to play with", as opposed to "scary homeless person" is some mystery. Perhaps she was locked-out of her house somehow, perhaps he was asked to watch her for a few minutes, who knows. The details are lost from memory. In any event, there began a habit of visitations, and "watching overs", which grew into to full-blown baby-sittings and "taking care ofs".

Let it also be know, o' patient reader, that his cooking was none too good in those days either, so why anyone would think that he should be charged with feeding children is another mystery. But, her mother, it would turn out, had many questionable decision making methodologies. In retrospect, they much explained how a five-year old girl could be so alienated that she would glom onto the nearest potential father-figure available.

In any event, what followed from this plot contrivance were three years of looking after a girl named Fiona, and, occasionally, her mother. That latter became particularly thematic when breast cancer entered the story, but that's another tale.

I haven't seen Fiona, or her mother, in a number of years. I assume that she's somewhere near-about fourteen. The photo has long been part of the tacit, unacknowledged background of the environments wherein I've lived. Hopefully she doesn't pick her nose in her sleep anymore.

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