Monday, May 24, 2010


There were mornings when Theresa schlepped armfuls of architectural plans six frozen blocks down from the office she earned her money to a small mailing outpost, where they were sent to other parts of the state. These heavy plans were her tickets out of the doldrums at least every other morning, and she didn't mind that they sometimes shook out of her arms and rolled down dirty, snowy sidewalk. The smells of urban Alaska were acrid and trapped in the sometimes well-below-zero air: car exhaust, french fries, coffee breath. Once while tramping down snow on her normal route (all the while wishing for some of those mukluks that some of the Native women wore) a car slowed down beside her. The driver, a smarmy looking overweight man, motioned that she speak to him, or come closer, or risk or life or whatnot. She shook her shock black, static-ridden hair and continued walking, still juggling the rolls of plans awkwardly and tried not to look back at the man, still driving slightly behind her. Did Alaskan prostitutes normally carry large rolls of architectural plans? Did they normally look so out of place? Theresa knew that the ones she'd seen looked like most other street prostitutes she'd seen (she had no idea if she'd met an escort or not): hungry, worn, jerking walk with the slightest hip rotation outward. Denim. She fit none of this description.
Theresa stopped walking the plans the six blocks down from the office after that day. She held them at her near-empty desk until Ben came to pick her up at lunchtime, when he would drive her there. After she dropped the plans off, they would sit and eat their simple yogurt-and-sandwich-and-apple-and-latte (mocha for Ben) lunch and mumble how their mornings were, until the mumbles turned to near shouts. Not at each other, never at each other. At the isolation from manners. About how far they were from door-opening-for-strangers and casual waves at intersections. From thank you, ma'ams and howdy do's. So far from that.

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