Her Name Was Esther
You don’t know her. Not many people do.
She moved to Phoenix from the Upper West Side of Manhattan after burying both of her parents last year. Everyone thought she was crazy for leaving.
She came out to run a methadone clinic that happens to be across a parking lot from a fake store front that sells guns and cocaine. It’s down the street but she can’t quite figure out east from west yet.
But she has some friends and they come by often and she’s found a restaurant that she likes and goes there several times a week and they know her drink. She still has to remind them of how she likes it. Not too much ice. She orders another.
Not too much ice. Here, you can just use what’s left in the glass. That will do for me.
She is tall and a little matronly looking with a thick midsection accentuated by a thin red belt around her white jersey shirt pulled over a wide strapped bra that isn’t quite sized right and creates bulges from underneath the band when she sits.
She’s been meaning to get sized. Go into one of those fancy stores where they do that and don’t make you feel embarrassed but who has time? There’s so much unpacking to do and she hasn’t done nearly enough.
Her hair is curled using an old curling iron she has had for years and into a style that is no longer fitting for anyone, including her. Her glasses are small and frameless which should have sort of floated and not drawn attention to themselves, but it doesn’t work.
But, her lipstick was red. Red. Like a 1940’s actress. Her lips were thin and smiling with a happiness that breathed both contentment and anxiety. She was alone there. Again. And what were the bartender’s thinking of her. She contemplated this as she nervously drank her drink much faster than she should have, like someone waiting for a lover that’s never going to come.
She tossed her hair over her shoulder and mustered every bit of confidence she had and sighed. Was it working?
Her new apartment is light but the walls are drab and she’s going to paint them as soon as she gets settled in. A nice peach color.
There’s certainly more space than she was used to in her co-op with the loud neighbors who worked too early in the morning which made sleeping in difficult for her but it didn’t really matter anyway since she had to be up by 6:30 to catch the train to lower Manhattan to be at work on time. But now, her job required her to be in by 5:30. She was done by 1:30 which is how she found the restaurant she was sitting in now.
She likes to sit at the bar because the bartenders provide conversation and she can watch out the windows to see the other customers on the patio or people walking by on the sidewalk. And she sits. And she watches. And she waits.
This was based very loosely on a woman I met who was sitting a few seats down from my ex-husband and me on a Sunday afternoon. She fascinated me. In my mind, I imagined the details of her life this way. I hugged her when I left. I never saw her again.