Keele & Eglinton

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She hobbles her way up and down the hill every night, one wobbly step at a time.  Always to the same spot at the same corner, she’s had the most luck while she was standing right there.

It’s the busiest intersection in the neighbourhood, more cars always amount to better chances and every bit of extra change counts.  The bus shelter is an added bonus, a much needed refuge on the bitter cold nights. Fearlessly weaving her way through the cluster of stopped cars, she knows exactly how long the red light lasts and how quickly she needs to do her job.

There have been quite a few close calls where she almost got hit, but even those scary moments haven’t been enough to make her afraid. In a city this size if you spend that much time standing in the middle of the street you’re going to get hit at some point, or at least almost.

While trying to forget some of the other days, this day provides her with a much needed gift, one or two relaxed sighs of relief. It’s warm out which means at least for tonight, she has a few less things to worry about. Her chapped hands will start to heal and the wind chill won’t bring those little tears that start to form in the corners of her eyes. Since she can’t walk so well anymore that black ice can be a hidden danger she doesn’t need. Not tonight. Tonight she’ll walk a little taller with a bit more spring in her step, breathing easier.

With it the warm weather often brings better moods, smiling faces and more generosity.  Fingers crossed, this usually works in her favour. One too many angry or annoyed looks can stay with her for days. Reduced productivity ruins her chances of possibly being able to take a night off, maybe.

Each vehicle a stage for its own silent performance, rapid cut out hints of relationships and day to day life piled one on top of each other.  Still, quiet faces turned in opposite directions, eternally searching and endlessly caught in a long pause with absolutely nothing to say.

She holds her sign here and there hoping for it to be noticed. She raises it up as high as she can when you pass, wanting you to take just one moment to give it a read. That little square of cardboard has almost started to feel like a part of her but she does not miss it when it isn’t there.

It took her forever to decide what to write on it. Money for Food.  A simple enough request, just stop and read the sign. Water, food, shelter and pleading. Please, I have nothing, give something, give a little every bit counts. I need, haven’t made much today.

Stare into her eyes.  It isn’t as easy as you might think, handing it all over. Her actions are a reflection of hopelessness, empty mountains of woulda, coulda, shoulda been. Life is so much simpler now, water, food, shelter. With help, help you, help me, help her.

Stop what you’re doing and please take a moment just to read her beat up cardboard sign.

F.

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