The street is her only entertainment. She sits at the window with her cup of tea. Fragile cup with saucer, faded flowers circle the rim. I don’t see the saucer, but imagine the soft plop of cup finding its place after each careful sip. Mustn’t spill. Mustn’t seem greedy or eager. Mustn’t hurry. Nothing to hurry for.
I wonder if she thinks that or knows that. Nothing to hurry for. Nothing.
I nod and wave as I pass. Her thin cup rises slowly, return greeting, then I am gone, hurrying to the bus. A little late. Always a little late. Much to hurry for, hurrying towards my day, my life. I have a life.
I can’t forget her today. Can’t shake the image of the old woman at the window. Don’t even know her name, this neighbor of mine, yet she has become the most familiar face on the block.
There every morning. Watching. Waiting. For what? The parade of dog walkers, school kids, commuters, runners, bikers, a car on our quiet street now and then?
She toasts us every morning with the gin in her teacup, toasts us as we hurry to the treadmill of work, school, life, toasts us, and when we’re safely dispatched, she rises, not as slowly as we think, rises from her chair at the window, feeds her mewling cat—all witches have cats, don’t they? I glimpsed hers at the window once, or the swish of a tail, a cat’s tail, at least.
She and the cat go out the back way, down the alley, stopping at every trash can and recycling barrel, gathering eye of newt, toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog, whatever, for the potions in that cup. Which isn’t gin after all. Certainly not tea. Something hallucinatory, peyote, LSD, someconcoction known only to her
Back at the house by lunch time, to mix the potions, get it right and ready for the next morning of casting her spell on me as I hurry past, pity caught in my throat my arm raised dutifully to salute the old lady I know nothing about.
© 2013 Kathleen Coskran