Molly Parker sits on the corner of State and Gorham and she watches the first snowfall of the year and she remembers when it wasn’t always like this. The snow covers the trash. The cold masks the stink. She doesn’t get up.
A while later, a man passes by and says something unkind that she does not hear and she does not make any movement towards her cup or her sign, she just continues to look at the accumulating white.
Her dog barks. She draws a black star on the white shell-toe of her shoe. She has $2.50 in her cup and she wants to get back to Chicago by mid-week. It is not going well.
A half a block away there is doorway she likes to sit in when the weather is inclement. It hasn’t gotten that bad yet. She does, however, pick up her cup and her sign and begin to walk. The black star smears and smudges. Her dog is not on a leash but follows anyway.
She has a place to stay, and it is warm and dry and the people who live there are friendly. She met them three months ago. One of the other street-kids said they let you sleep on the couch if you bring some booze. So she did, and they did. They don’t make her bring booze anymore. She sets up her bedroll at the end of a long hallway in their apartment and no one bothers her there.
Further down State Street, where the bars and restaurants are beginning to pick up a head of steam for the evening’s trade, her dog settles in beside her. She looks at the ground because people are kinder to her when she looks ashamed of herself.
A couple leaves a bar and the man puts $5 in her cup and the woman sets her leftovers at Molly’s feet. The man says “What’d you do that for? I was gonna eat that” loud enough for her to hear. Once they are around the corner, she picks up the Styrofoam and throws it in the trash.
When night falls in earnest, she leaves State Street and heads to the apartment. She is tired and she is cold and she is lonely and she wants to get back to the people who she’s begun to think of as family. They are always there for her. She is never there for them. They are okay with that and she loves them for it.
On the way, she stops at the Badger Liquor on the corner and she picks up two four packs of Camo Malt Liquor Tallboys. She wants to contribute. She wants to sleep well.
Scott Mitchel May is a writer living in Vermont with his family. You can follow him on Twitter @smitchelmay and find a selection of his published works at scottmitchelmay.com