She sits hunched over a collapsing card table, gray hair stuck to her face in the rain. Night has fallen and she gleams orange in the lamp light in front of the bar-turned-evangelical-church. A series of spasms sends her body into contortions.
“Are you okay?”
“Well, my stomach hurts a little.”
A white SUV rolls through the stop sign, its passengers staring as she writhes.
“I’m trying to get money for my stomach medicine.”
Her old jewelry is sitting on the table in front of her, partially covered with plastic. With the wind and the rain, everything is soaked. Her cardboard sign is illegible and it is falling apart. Her coffee can holds more rain than money.
“How much do you need?”
“Ten. Then I can get my pills tomorrow.”
“If I bring it, do you promise to come in off the street?”
“Yes. Yes. Yes.”
A red BMW passes us without slowing down. She shudders.
“Give me ten minutes. I’ll be back.”
“Thank you. Thank you.”
Handing her a ten doesn’t seem like enough.
“Do you need to go to the doctor?”
“I’ll be okay.”
I pause and think as a crowd from the VFW rushes past us. They pretend not to see us.
She looks so cold.
“Can I bring you some coffee, maybe?”
“I’d like that.”
“Okay, ten minutes. I’ll be back. Promise.”
Her smile dissolves into a shudder.
“What’s your name?”
“Emily. Can I take you to the doctor? Please?”
“I’ll be okay.”
Another SUV passes. She winces.
I return with an envelope and coffee.
“Will this keep you out of the rain tomorrow?”
Emily lives over the church. Carrying her table and jewelry inside, I trip in the grass in the dark in the rain.
The vehicles keep passing.
rainy street roar –
Roar of the Midway
roar of the midway—
the toddler’s balloon
rises in moonlight
© Michael Dylan Welch
Image: Rainy Night by Deannster via Photopin.