the lady on my street

Her brow is thick, heavy with struggle, depression, anxiety. She walks in a rush, tipped forward, brow forward, the push-chair in front, wheeled at a pace you hear from the window. But I hear her come anyway. ‘You fuckin’ mind ya own business.’ Or, ‘You wouldn’t like it eever, you fuckin’ bastard.’ Always shouting, always swearing, always staring forward, rushing. Normally there’s no one there. She’s shouting up the street, normally behind her, but I never see anyone. Sometimes her phone rings, she grabs it from her bag, and screams at it. ‘Fuck off! Fuck off! Fuck off!’ Her child, about 4 years old, says nothing. Only sits very quietly in the chair, a beige colour, with knees knocked up, stroking a bottle. Completely quiet. I have never seen or heard the child make a single noise. No squeak. Occassionally the woman shows huge amounts of tenderness. She stops, steps quickly to the front of the push-chair, bends down from the hips, her brow always heavy, her long brown hair tied back with just a few thick strands hanging over her eyes, and strokes softly her child’s cheeks, hair, chin and ears. Then she kisses her child on the cheeks over and over, soothing her. The child says nothing but seems comforted, though no more comforted than her mother who is delighted. When she is calm and happy like this, she shrieks her love for her child to the whole street. ‘Aren’t you laaavally!’ And I sometimes want to open my window and shout my agreement. I never have, despite the fact she walks past my window about 14 times a day. Up and down. Up and down. Up and down. Yelling. But if she stopped, I’d miss her. I’d really miss her.

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