What was she doing here in this hot weather? The day was hot and humid, yet going in and out of the subway would have been too expensive. Her chin hit the sidewalk. It happened almost without her realizing it. One minute she was up and the next down. Her whole body hurt but the chin got the worst of it. he hoped someone in the street full of people would offer to help her up. No one did. he struggled up again as best she could, picking up her purse. She shook her head and on she went. The day was too bright to think about heartlessness.
No, Don’t make them. Don’t allow it because you can’t. There are no plans to be made. It’s always here today, somewhere else tomorrow. It is never permanent. It is never safe. Always on the move. Always with the suitcase.
3 stone steps and she was inside where all the food was kept. Someone got in front of her. He’s younger and quicker, she thought, but still it is not polite. The room was large and the bright yellow light reminded her of the sun that didn’t shine outside anymore.
The first man behind the large table offered her a container of a container of soup. She declined it with a smile. Just milk, please. The second man had a nearly empty bag of bagels and bread next to him. You can have one bread and one pastry, he said. Thank you. Then she walked out the door with the others.
Once upon a time I wanted you to be proud of me. Once upon a time I would have done anything to please you. I went with you you to another country because I loved you so much. I wanted to be the daughter you wanted to have. You were my role model, the kind of man I would have fallen in love with and married later on in life.Your fortitude and perseverance were admirable. I fell in love with a man that did not resemble you. I never regretted that love. I do regret not having you in my life anymore.
5 P.M. The large white mattress was on the sidewalk right by the curb. A white sheet covered it and the woman had her head pressed to her pillow. Her eyes were closed but when someone walked by, she would open them just a little. Tourists and locals looked at her while trying not to look. “Are we in Bangladesh or the U.S. with people sleeping on the sidewalk?” No one could answer the man’s question.
Scream. Just scream as loud as you want. No one will hear you. No one will care. It is you, only you. The pain has lasted long enough. It has been around, like a constant and loyal friend.
It was the eyes–the sad brown eyes. They were pleading, asking the woman for something. She stood in front of the dog and petted her. “It’s ok, baby. It’s ok. Everything is going to be fine,” she said. The man standing next to the dog looked at the ground. The woman started to move away; the dog’s eyes kept on talking. Get me out of here. I don’t know what is going on. Why are we here, in the middle of the sidewalk every single day? Why is there a plastic cup near my owner where people can put money? I’ve seen them drop coins and green bills. I’m scared.
Late. It was late. About 100 people were gathered waiting for it. The men stood against the walls of the tall office buildings and the women were by the curb craning their necks. Traffic. Midtown traffic was bad that time of day when everyone wanted to forget all about their work day and just go home.
Someone shouted. “There! There he is! It’s the blue car.” They all rushed to meet it and the man behind the wheel. The sandwich man parked his car. In the back seat there were all sort of goodies, like sandwiches, muffins and sodas. The soup kitchen isn’t what it used to be.
Nickel and dime, dime and nickel. So carefully gathered, so slowly gathered over so many years. Gone, all gone. Scrimping and saving always. What’s the use?
The line was not long that afternoon. A man stood by a long white table. “Sandwich? Orange? Milk? Juice?” “Sandwich, no milk, no orange, just juice”, she told him. He gave her the stuff , putting it in the white bag, and she walked down the 3 steps into the street. “Happy 4th.” A woman said. She looked at her, seeing nothing. The heavy makeup on her face made her look older; only the eyes had a little bit of life in them. “Happy 4th of July,” the woman repeated gently. “Is it the 4th? I didn’t know.”