August 30, 2016
Paul A. Eng
“Don’t call me sick! Who is sick? You are the sick one.”
She flung her hand down in a swoop. It was a snowy January evening a week after her 75th birthday. She had cleaned off the bench and sat content as she lit another cigarette in the dim package of night. The fingertips of her black wool gloves had been cut off for added dexterity.
It was a friendly area with dog owners that met each night to allow their animals to play but now it was past 11pm and the area was vacant.
Her sales had been good that night and she bought herself a small bouquet of flowers at the convenience store along with cigarettes, beer and sherry and she roamed with her black cart a few blocks west and a block south to the Central Tech Collegiate. Behind her the handsome front entrance of curved stone was romantically set by a hypnotic snow that fell in unison from lampost to lampost.
She was tall and thin and never wore a hat. She had big luminous eyes that were dark brown and sensitive. Her grey hair was parted in the middle and tied in a bun at the back of her neck. Usually she sat on a cushion that she placed on the edge of a cement flower planter in front of a coffee shop around the corner from where she lived.
It was the busy student area called the Annex and she sold handmade earrings and bracelets that she hung on a rectangular metal screen that extended out of her black cart. Her name was Deni and she had become a local icon in her black garb. She had two older sisters who were married and had grown children. They had stopped calling on the phone or writing in the past years since the parents had died, one after the other.
She pulled out the bottle of sherry and poured some into her styrofoam cup and drank from it.
“You can all go to Hell!”
Deni had a French accent from Quebec, her place of birth, but she claimed the city of Toronto as her residence for the last 20 years.
She lit another cigarette and looked from side to side in a casual serenity. She remembered her sisters, playing with them in the backyard, singing songs and telling jokes.
“I do not have to be like you!
I do not want a husband! I do not need children to love me!”
She felt tired and settled herself on her side and the cold wood bench became warm beneath her. Snowflakes fell on her lips and she heard a noise.
“Come child, kiss me, kiss me up my child.”
She closed her eyes and murmured. “Oh Mama.”
Softly came the cold and tender sank her heart.