She sat with her forehead pressed
against the window, gazing out at the open street. She had been at the
window all night; sleep would not come claim her. From the third floor
window, she could see the wider street and two alleys that connected
to it. The brick buildings were streaked and sooty and the balconies
of the larger apartment building across the street were filled
variously with everyday furniture, an odd Christmas tree, and here and
there, an attempt at adding some flora to the bleakness. Soon the
buses and trucks would roar away from the subway and taxis and car
horns staccato stab the air. But now, the sweet early morning air, it
A high-pitched shout came from the
street and a smile crossed her face as she watched a small boy running
and chasing a dog down the alley under her window, skipping and
yelling for the dog to stop. The dog held something in its mouth but
held no concern for the boy, and trotted quickly around corner and
disappeared. The boy followed, unconcerned that his shouts echoed
loudly in the early morning quiet of the back alleys.
As it was early yet not all had
awaken, save the boy and the modern-day rag-pickers, digging through
the garbage pails in search of cans and bottles and maybe some
discarded food, a half-eaten sandwich or the end of a fast food meal.
Two of these figures, mere silhouettes ambling from pile to pile each
dragging a loose sack with their poor finds. They know to get up
early, before the mean drunks wake up and take their hard-won loot.
These unfortunates will collect what they can early and go to the
relative safety of the park to while away the day until evening calls
in its rhythm the need to slink into the shadows and find one more
night’s hard sleep.
She drew a deep breath and exhaled
slowly, fogging the glass slightly while the fine curtain slightly
fluttering against her cheek, with a slight tickle. The cool glass
felt smooth as she peered harder to the left to see if anyone was
coming up the road. But it was quiet.
“He’s not coming,” she said aloud.
“Not that he said he would” in a conversation without resolution.
She drew back from the window,
rose from the chair and left the room, passing into the kitchen
lightening in the Easterning sun. The kitchen was a small room with
old linoleum and aging appliances and a faint sweet and smoky smell
that was always there in the morning. She hated living in this place
and would move if there were not the complications that had lately
dashed her hopes and planning.
Coffee a must, if she was to clear
her head and get moving and she picked up the pot and filled it
halfway with water, enough for two cups—one before her shower and one
for the road. Coffee-making had a ceremonious, almost religious,
aspect and the area reserved for this process not unlike an altar,
with containers and implements arranged neatly the night before. She
lifted the French press from its place on the counter and gently set
it down in front of her and pouring, without measuring the coffee
grounds into the glass vessel. The smell reached her nose and it
quickened her pace. Dipping her finger in the dry coffee grounds, she
drew some out on the tip of her finger and put it in her mouth.
Shortly, the water boiled and was ready to be poured, turbidly mixing
and turning brown in the clear press. The mixture stirred to gain the
maximum from the concoction and soon it was ready and she pushed the
top of the press down into the mud and the liquid was freed up with
the wet spent paste left compressed at the bottom with fine dark
Ah, the finest part of the day. A
teaspoon of sugar and the first one is mixed. Over the cup rose a
steam and a steadiness. Picking up the vessel, she welked out of the
kitchen, turning right down the narrow hall to its end. The bathroom
door was partly open and a light show in the darkened hall. She
balanced the cup on the edge of the sink and pulled her T-shirt over
her head, which dipped and edge in the coffee and splashed some into
the sink. She looked down uninterestedly and dropped the shirt on the
floor outside of the door of the bathroom. She wore gym shorts, which
she pulled down, pinching her underpants and getting them both down in
one movement. The shower hissed to life and the steam filled the small
room. She picked up the the coffee and stood naked in front of the
mirror. Wiping the condensation roundly from the mirror, she looked
for a moment at her face, hair dropping limply around her face framed
by the steamed glass. She sipped again and put the cup down, jerked
the shower curtain aside and stepped into the stream of the hot
When she had finished, she pulled
a towel down from the shelf above the toilet and wrapped herself in
it, leaving puddles of water on the hardwood floor as she walked to
her tiny bedroom.