He is a very sad man--the one who feeds the pidgins in the park. He visits a grave every day. I wonder whose it is. I’ve never gone to look. I don’t like to bring Matty so close to the gravestones. I don’t know why-but it frightens me. I used to love wandering cemeteries and looking at the names and feeling sad. The children’s sections were always the saddest and sweetest. Now I do not think I will ever be able to read the stones again. All I would see is the still form of Matty’s little twin who died so soon after birth. So soon. She didn’t even live long enough to smile—once. I push the stroller faster and Matty giggles.
The portrait artist is there again today. His easel set, his sign advertising his prices. His slow smile always widening at the sight of my dear Matty. He’s done some lovely children’s portraits, and I think he would like to do one of Matty, but I don’t have the money for something like that. Yesterday, while I waited for the red hand to change to a white walking man he spoke to me.
“Maim,” he said in his slow Southern American accent—so out of place here, “If you’d like, I would love to do a portrait of your little girl. I’d do it for nothing. Just to draw her pretty face and see you smile would be more than enough payment.”
The light changed, but I was too busy looking at him to notice. The old, old street bum pushed his metal cart past me and its rusty wheels protested as they crossed the street. I didn’t know what to say to the artist. I stammered something like: I’d think about it. Then I had to stand in awkward silence in front of him, while I waited for the next walk light.
I end my walk with Matty in front of the daycare. This is the most hated moment of every day. She’s barely two and I have to leave her. I want to cry every time. I want to join the wailing of the little Asian girl who clutches an embroidered hanky. I want to shout “no! no! no!” with the bratty little redhead who clings to his dishevelled mother every morning. Or at least I want to cry silent tears with the slender girl who is too young to be a mom. She probably thinks no one sees those tears, but I do. And I know how much it hurts. Some days I just want to give her a hug and cry with her. But I do none of these things.
Instead I stow my stroller, straighten my skirt and head to work. It’s a long walk. Too long to do in high healed shoes—but my boss insists I wear them. Her standards of dress are very high. Once I wore walking shoes and brought the heals to change into. But she saw me coming in and threw a fit. That day I though I would loose my job.
My boss’s name is Mrs. Bentington. I do not know her first name. Probably never will. Sometimes I wonder what she goes home to every night that makes her so mean and grouchy. Does she have a husband who cares more for baseball or his career than he does for her? Or is her husband dead or gone, leaving her only a grand title to cling to and a silent house to haunt?