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Impressions of Downtown

Charlotte LeBlanc


Her legs, encased in thin synthetic material, make whispers when she walks. From my vantage point, I cannot help but envy her confident, cat-like strut as she saunters down the pavement. She wraps her arms around herself as if she is cold. Does she shiver because the heavy July air blatantly gropes her flesh to make itself known? How does she do it every night, servicing these downtown masses? The questions boil in my mind but I continue to observe. A late model Caddy pulls up with undoubtedly another customer, soon to be satisfied. The woman-child peddles her wares through the car window, smirking as the man describes what he wants and exactly how he wants it. She swings away and I catch a glimpse of her young eyes, fake with expert eye makeup and bravado. Peel away those artificial layers of flashy, nightly uniforms and innate sexual prowess, and I imagine only the sleepy child would emerge, wishing only to go home to her own bed, wondering if she would ever be "there yet." A few minutes later she knocks on my car window, her bitten nails glaring with chipped crimson polish. She looks bored and layers below must exist a loathing of this place and her role to play here. Sympathy for this working girl reverberates through me even as we conduct our own transaction. In this world of the powerful and the weak, hers is a rite of passage. Haven't most of us been there with that imminent choice, that overwhelming need driving our decisions? And like her, some of us have chosen arguably the oldest, most basic profession in the world. I made that choice and I shudder, trying not to think about it. The bright lights of the drive-in fast food place almost blind me as I pull out onto the busy street, grappling with my made-to-order burger and rings. One customer down, infinity to go. As I look back, I catch her watching me leave. Admiration for my expensive car is evident. I am not the only famished one. The neon reflection in her eyes is almost perfect . . . a simple testament to the resolve of our youth in feeding that constant, insatiable hunger.