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.
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.”
I want to say enough but then I think what’s the use? What’s the use of asking for something that I am not going to get? I will not get the pain stopped. I will not get the stress away from me. Noise bothers me. lights are in my way. There are too many of them. Too many setbacks.
I remember your eyes. I cannot forget them. Your eyes haunt me after all these years–15 long years without you. You thought you were not important. To me you were a relative, a second aunt. I loved you. I loved being with you. The house you lived in was not perfect, but to both of us, it was home. Our home.
The cats. The cats without a home. I see them; I feed them. Something moves forward. Something happens to make their existence a little better.My books. My beloved books. They have been a part of me forever. There is no self interest involved. My books and I know one another. We want nothing but to be companions, to help calm the sadness inside.
Life. Life beneath one’s true potential. To look bad, not the way one is used to looking, to be less than one’s true self. To see others, whoever others are, have what you want and need, what one feels one deserves. To not be able to get used to this lesser life.To not understand why this lesser life must be accepted as the new reality. Not to be able to wear a robe because a robe would mean one has a home, not to feel comfortable anywhere with the rain pounding outside.
She walked slowly, as if she didn’t want to move. Her hands dragged two large carts, one full of black bags the other with light green bags. The sun shone on her face. Her smile was grim. Fifth Avenue at that time of the afternoon scared her, with all the tourists pushing and shoving. The way she looked scared the passers by. Her baggy black pants, a grey T shirt, dark fake leather jacket and light sneakers all needed washing. I am not me anymore, she said to herself. I am it, an it, whatever that is. By now I must be a bum.
A young woman. She is sitting in one of the church benches. Her eyes look at the floor. Will I see him today? Will he show up soon? I haven’t seen him since last Tuesday, a week ago. I love him. I can’t get enough of it, of being near him.