flash fiction/Tuesday night

At the gym tonight, I found a homeless woman sleeping in the locker room. I forgot about the treadmill and sat watching her as she mouthed along with her troubled dreams. There was dirt in her wrinkles and under her fingernails, caked in her ears. Her feet kicked and her head jerked from side to side. It took a moment for me to realize she was having a seizure. I reached to steady her, then froze uncertainly. She let out a groan and I ran from the locker room. I averted my eyes as I walked by the front desk and out into the cold night air.

Around the corner there’s a diner that’s always empty and I slid into a booth there. The street was smothered into a flat black square by the window and its harsh fluorescent reflection.  I could only see my own face, pale and then dropping off into grizzle and shadow. Then I could see the soft middle-aged woman waddle up beside me on tortured feet, misshapen by thirty years of high heels and waitressing. I turned to look at her.

“What can I get ya, hon?” she asked around a wad of chewing gum. Her eyes were rimmed by purple flaps- eyeshadow above and blood-filled bags beneath. Her skin was like a piece of dough that’s sat out in the open air and formed a crust.

“Just coffee,” I said.

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