No Sense

Photo of 13th and H St. at 10:55 a.m. on January 4th, 1931

Her hair was strawberry blonde, more strawberry than blonde. When you looked closely, you saw that she came that way. No off color at the ends. No reverse skunk dark roots. No center part outlined with silver or white.

She had a thick head of hair and bangs flew from her face. Although her cut was not high fashion, the ends weren’t split. Somebody might say she was a ginger with her freckled face and arms, but she wasn’t that fair and her skin held a tan just fine.

Her lips were moving, and she was only wordless in that she wasn’t making a sound, but she was most definitely forming words. Her face was more than sun kissed. Maybe a bit weather worn, too.

Her back was to the building and behind her was an unopened bottle of orange juice and an extra large cup from Chick-fil-A, or Five Guys or some other red writing on a white logo’ed joint. In front of her was a medium sized, clear plastic cup with a ring of green leaves that identified this as recyclable plastic. Maybe it wasn’t even plastic. It could be a corn product. The cup in front of her was about a foot from her mouth making the shapes of words. There was green inside the cup as well as bordering the cup. The green was paper money.

Back to her hair, it wasn’t dirty. It wasn’t matted. It wasn’t higgledy-piggledy. But it wasn’t fresh from the salon, either. Her eyes were closed and the teeth behind her moving lips were a little oversized, but there. She was wearing a dress and black hose. Not sheer hose, but tights. The tights were ripped and ran. The toes on her left foot, the one on top, were exposed. Her right foot, the one on the bottom, was almost completely bereft of cover. There was a thread that looped between two of her toes that kept the rest of the stocking on her leg.

She had no shoes. No shoes on her feet. No shoes near her feet. No shoes near her head. No shoes next to the unopened juice. She didn’t have a bag. Not a purse. Not a backpack. Not a garbage bag. Not a thin plastic bag from the Walgreens.

She was more than asleep. More like passed out. She was sprawled on the sidewalk in the mid afternoon on a busy corner in the business district. She was on her right side with her hands near her chest, her legs pulled up slightly. Her nearly bare feet pointed toward the White House.

It wasn’t unusual for people to sleep on the sidewalk or to ask for money or to live on the streets downtown. But she didn’t look like that. She looked different. Like she was either a new transplant or someone who was lost or someone who was dumped.

A few people paused as they walked by her, looking to see if she was breathing, wondering if she was okay. At least two called to have someone check in on her. This is because as one was describing the woman and her location to the emergency dispatch, Engine 16 was in the intersection, making a left turn. The firefighters stepped out of the big red truck.

The one on the phone told dispatch that someone was here, hung up and felt water welling in eyesockets. She turned her head to the sky and said a prayer, hoping that something was there to catch it.

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