She walks in quick little bursts, leading with her left foot and slightly dragging her right behind. Her oversized white tshirt drapes over her curved spine and hangs past her hips, extra baggy on her slight frame. After an incident where she peed on a bus and berated the other passengers, now when she comes into the coffeeshop we have to call the police. I always feel bad about it, because it feels like another piece of dignity taken away—she doesn’t even get the chance to determine what this visit will be like, she just has to leave. She doesn’t get to decide this anymore.
Before that, she would come into the Foundry pretty regularly, asking the customers for money in the voice she uses to do that, the higher, softer voice that sounds more helpless but also more soothing. She’d make the rounds til I’d tell her she couldn’t do that. Then she’d walk into the bathroom where she’d spend a nerve-wracking amount of time, and emerge smelling eye-wateringly of the boutique air freshener we buy in little spritz bottles. It actually looks like it could be body spray, but I suppose she’d use Febreze if that’s what was in there.
When she would come back up to the counter, she’d stand for awhile asking the prices for things or trying to wheedle her way into a cup of coffee. “I just need something hot and sweet,” she’d say. “It’s cold out there.” It was always cold, even when it wasn’t. She’d pull out her change with her hardened hands, knuckles cracked and white against her dark skin. Sometimes she’d end up convincing the person behind her to buy her a bagel, the customer always looking blank and dazed like it all happened too fast to process. She might not have all her faculties about her but she is crafty and quick. I wonder what happened to her to get her to here.
She doesn’t come into the shop much anymore. When I see her shorn head bobbing up and down with the irregular beat of her steps as I’m driving through town, I smile a worried smile and I pray for her. I miss her, in some way that I don’t quite understand.