The Lady on the Street Corner

In my neighborhood, there’s this old lady who sits on a curb.

She makes her way around; the curb on the street corner, the curb outside my window, the curb across from the parking lot.

At first, I thought she was homeless, but I found out from a friend that this lady lives in an apartment that her parents bought for her right across the road.

She looks like she’s 80, but I heard that she’s really only 50 or so. She’s so skinny, her legs are like twigs and her skin all shriveled up.

She’s harmless, though.

Every day and night she sits there and asks for a cigarette. To every person that walks by, she says “Do you have a cigarette?.”

My bedroom is right by the front porch, so when my windows are open, I can hear her coughing outside, picturing her curled up on the curb like she always is. It sounds like she has lung cancer. I think about how I would get her to the hospital sometimes.

What if she dies on the curb, I ask myself. What would I do?

I don’t know why she always wants a cigarette. Out of everything, why that? Why do our brains want any of the things they do?

I keep thinking that something must have happened to her a long time ago, and that she’s just looking for something to hold on to.

Maybe the cigarette makes her feel safe.

Maybe it’s the only thing she can rely on.

I want to help her, you know, I really do. I don’t want her to sit on the curb anymore and ask for a cigarette.

I think her name is Star, or maybe that’s just her nickname.

Every time I feel sorry for myself, I just look outside my window at Star.

If I gave her a cigarette would I be helping her?

I really don’t know.

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