SHE SPOKE TO ME ONCE on a warm summer day. I was sitting on my balcony drinking coffee. She pointed at the house next door. A yellow notice was fastened to the fence, it said that the property was being re-zoned for business. She didn’t like that, said she wasn’t sure what that would mean for the neighbourhood…
I’m guessing she’s well into her 80’s and it would surprise me if she weighs 100 pounds. There’s a nervous energy about her – always looking around and jumpy at the sign of any noise or movement. I have never seen anyone visit her and suspect she is alone in this world.
Truth be told, she has an abrasive way about her. On some days, I have avoided any eye contact, not willing to endure her wrath. I’ve watched her as she drives her car slowly around the block, hazard lights blinking, and stops in the middle of the street in front of my place to the irritation of many a driver behind her. When they honk their horn, she gestures angrily for them to pass. She carefully opens the car door, checks both ways and crosses the street slowly as if unsure of her footing. Holding my breath for fear that she might be hit by a car, I’ve willed her to cross the street quickly in my mind.
Once a man from the city’s parking authority approached her to ask her to move her car off the street. I remember thinking, ‘uh oh, this isn’t gonna be pretty.’ Much to my surprise though, in a strained, airy voice she pleasantly agreed to do so and walked to her car. When he had rounded the corner, she – perhaps in defiance, left her car where it was and fed the birds before returning to her car and driving home.
…SHE SHUFFLED CLOSER to my balcony. So frail, she looked like she might tip over – like a gust of wind might knock her down. She told me in a whisper, as if her next words were a secret, that her best friend, who had passed away some time back used to live in my apartment. They used to visit and sprinkle bird seed under that exact tree right in front of my place.
I’d seen her feed the birds many times over the years, even on the coldest days. I knew she lived down the street and had wondered why she didn’t feed them at her place. Now I knew – she was honouring the memory of a friend.
~ HUMP DAY CHRONICLES ~
I saw her again last night. I don’t even know her name. I think I need to rectify that.