Friday, April 23, 2010

What happens when you walk outside

It's dinner from Tu Lan tonight. I step out my door and skirt around the woman with long blond hair and tape holding her glasses together.

Got a dollar? she asks. I shake my head, and she smiles, sympathetically.

At Tu Lan, the guy behind the counter asks what I do. I tell him, and he shakes his head.

I guess the stereotypes aren't always right, he says.

Why? What did you think I was?

A librarian.

This cracks me up.

I take my soup, but the doorway is blocked by a woman staring in. She looks like somebody's mother except for the shiner, one eye swollen shut. African hair wrestled into neat French braids. I edge past her, but she puts out one arm to stop me, one dry hand on my arm, the other on my face.

She leans in and kisses me on the cheek, then turns away.

It's like a mother's kiss.

I pass the blond again. Sixty cents? she says. Her price is dropping.

I walk home, the air cooling the kiss on my cheek.

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