He’d told her to meet him there on a Tuesday afternoon. “Is this too much?” she asked nervously as she rushed to leave. “You look incredible! He’s going to die!” cried Jo as she waltzed around the corner with a tray full of burgers. “You think so?” “I know so! Now smile- you have such a pretty smile Gail… and get out of here! You’re late already!”
She walked down the street to the bus stop. The air was thick with the aftermath of that morning’s storm. She wanted a cigarette- but she remembered her Grandmother telling her that they weren’t lady like. “But all the girls in the movies…” “I don’t care about what they do in the movies- if you want to meet a nice man who will take care of you, you’re not going to want to smell like an ashtray!”
She didn’t know a lot of nice men… She wondered how she ended up here, on a bus downtown to meet him. It was exciting and terrifying all at the same time. She looked up to see the disapproving eyes of an older woman upon her. “Why did I pick this dress?” she thought, “I should never have listened to Jo…” She tugged at her skirt and turned to look out the window “…If we stop breathing, we’ll die. If we stop fighting our enemies, the world will die…”
“19th and Grand…next stop is 19th and Grand…” She stood up too early and almost lost her balance. She was dizzy from not enough food. Nerves… and besides, it’d been a slow week at the joint and she hadn’t been able to push her rent off any further. She was relieved to be out of the stale bus air and into the warm street. “ Two blocks to the left and then turn right…” She repeated this over and over in her head like a mantra as her heels clickity clicked down the sidewalk.
The door bell jingled as she walked through. The diner was small and empty- there was a large man in the corner making coffee. She sat at the counter, looking lost. She wondered if she smelled like a hamburger.“Can I help you sweetheart?” He was kind. “I’ll take a cup of coffee” she said…
Photography by Sally McIntyre of Toy Elephant Photography
Story by Yours Truly: Elisabeth Donaldson