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.
She had short, thin black and white hair. Her horn-rimmed glasses hid the color of her eyes. The outfit she wore was simple: an avocado green wool jacket, A light blue full skirt, with another skirt underneath it. Her shoes were the Oxford type.
The woman walked with her eyes on the sidewalk. The suitcase attached to the two-wheel cart seemed to be too heavy for her. When she looks up for a moment, the expression on her face is one of bewilderment and surprise, almost of shock. She stops at the soup kitchen door. I don’t want to go in there. No.She walks up the 3 stone steps.
She dragged the little red suitcase by the handle. It was heavy and she had to make extra efforts to push it to the other side of the street. The black hoodie covered half her face. There were no complaints; it was the only thing protecting her. She stopped when she got to the following block. The rain was coming down hard again. Her next stop was the subway station. Before someone says something again, before they asked her to leave or before the cop came. What did the city expect her and the other homeless to do? Where could they hide if no place was safe? She shook her head. They just want to make things hard for people who already have it hard enough.
What a great day this is! It’s a fantastic day. Let’s not waste any more time! Let’s just get the show on the road. The arms moving nervously, jerky-fashion. A fake smile was on the face; the eyes were without light. The head moved up and down, as if it were listening to silent music. Do it! I am moving all the way to the sidewalk. I am so happy! It is so thrilling to have this opportunity at this time of my life. I do so love to get no baths or showers. I adore feeling not on the safe side. It’s the best feeling ever.
It came down hard; it came down with a fury. People dashed by, with and without umbrellas . They rushed past her, almost touching her arm or her elbow. Her hoodie was wet, the arms of her leather jacket were damp. It was no use trying to shield herself. Stop. Stop. Please STOP, Rain! You are making my life miserable. It’s beyond annoying. Where will I seek shelter? It’s freezing. A warm cup of tea–I long for that as I never longed for anything in my life.
It is made of plastic; it is a white. First, the important stuff—petroleum jelly, soap, toothpaste, a tooth brush and face cream. The skin on the face has aged considerably in the last few days. As long as everything fits in the bag, it doesn’t matter if she has to fish for something or not. The stress would ne bad, but at least she’d find whatever it is she needs.
Right now stress is an important part of her story. She pushes the stress out of sight for as long as possible, but it keeps on coming back.
One piece, the blue one, is heavy. She pulls it towards the curb. Her face makes a gesture of exhaustion. The light changes. She waits until she can cross the street again. The big piece carries her to the other street. She sighs and goes back to get the other piece, the second one. And then there is the next and the next. It is back and forth, back and forth. She crosses several more streets with the baggage. It’s been a long and hot day. Now she’ll sit somewhere where people are talking and laughing. She’ll pretend none of this is real, that it never happened
The room is narrow and small, about 75 square feet. There is a bed with a mattress. The mattress is covered with a white sheet. At the bottom of the bed the sheet has spots of blood. It is as if someone has been scratching his or her leg very hard. She understands why. The bed bugs have been waking her, the new “guest” up for 4 nights. She tosses from side to side but it is no good. The bugs always find the most sensitive parts of her body. The TV set is small, about 12 inches. It is attached to the wall, hospital style. There are only 2 or 3 English speaking channels. The rest are Chinese. At the foot of the bed a blond cheap looking piece of furniture has a small yellow bar of soap, a Colgate toothpaste sample and a small toothbrush. The woman’s suitcases are not large; there is no room for her to move unless she wants to bump against the wall. Someone put the white towels on top of the TV. They have ripped parts. The woman opens the door to use the bathroom at the end of the hall. It is also narrow. She hears the sound of water running. Someone is taking a shower. Maybe the water will make the bugs go away, but she doubts that. They are here to stay. She hopes she is not.
B-U-G-S. It is bugs. I am living with bugs. They are on the bed, on the sheets and they attack my arm, my leg, even my hair. She spelled out the word. The woman at the other end could not understand her at first. Take your time, she told her. This is stressful. It is very stressful. She had been stressed many times in the last few years. Her mind and soul told her that she had had enough. She had enough of being impoverished, enough of putting up with this and that and the other thing and the next other thing. She did not know until when this would last. What was it? What was wrong that she had tried so hard and nothing had worked? Nothing had worked to improve her life. Now the bugs were in the way. They were another obstacle.
You waited for me behind the door. I opened it and you would chirp like a tiny bird. And you’d run to the kitchen. It was food time and you didn’t let me forget it. I loved you before I even saw you in real life. The sadness of you caught my heart. The shelter pictures showed a brown little thing with some shades of orange in her fur. I wanted to adopt you so I could protect you. Now you are staying elsewhere for a few days; I miss you as if you had been gone for months. I will open another door tonight and you won’t be there to greet me. We will not be watching movies on TV. I want you back. You are my family. We belong together for whatever time we have left.
There it is again, life on the streets. The cold wind in the morning hours is making it feel like winter instead of summer. I lack o sleep, lack of 6 to 8 hours of sleep. No shower, no nearby place to take one. I have seen Kindness from strangers and tiredness, tiredness of the soul and the mind. I missd my normalcy, what to me is a normal routine. I miss my bed.