Cigarettes and Aspirin

She’s wearing a white knee-length jacket that somehow looks out of place. On the corner with cracked white hands and a weathered face. She’s crossing the same street that I am. A touch below zero out here and she’s 50 maybe. The little white man appears and we cross the street, me trailing slightly behind. Down the street, while walking, she fishes a bottle of aspirin out of her pocket. Gracefully places one in her mouth and then throws the bottle back into her pocket. Reaches into the other pocket, pulls out a pack of smokes. Yanks a zippo, lights up, snaps the lighter back into her pocket. I get the impression that I am witnessing a set of refined and practiced movements, honed over years. She continues to walk gracefully down the block, white coat trailing and cigarette dangling casual-like from the left hand. Every 20 seconds or so, hand reaches for mouth and a drag is pulled in. Exhale up and to the left. She makes it look effortless, as if she was born with a DuMaurier in her hand.

We get to the end of the block and she’s crossing again. So am I. She gives a quick glance back to me, as if to say, I know you’re watching. Butts out the cigarette with her heel. We wait for a few seconds and the walk light turns white. She walks on unconcerned, another aspirin (or whatever) down the hatch. That white coat almost looks tragic in the whiskerbreeze. I contemplate a left turn. I go.