Someone who reads my newsletter wrote to ask me what was going on with the gang at 44 Cherry Street. As this has been a busy time, I didn’t know, so I walked up Cherry Street and opened the gate that leads to the front walk and the steps up to the front porch. I noticed that both front windows were bare, and as I climbed the porch steps, I peered into each and I saw that both downstairs tenants had moved out. I pushed the bell for Lorraine’s apartment and was relieved to get a buzz in reply that opened the lock on the front door.

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Entering the foyer I saw both doors for the downstairs apartments ajar and looking into each and saw only dust bunnies and random junk left behind. What happened here, I wondered. It had been a long time since I had been to 44 Cherry Street, but had it been that long? The place just felt empty in the way a long vacated house feels cold and threatening, It felt as if someone had died here. Was that possible? Covid has caused a lot of harm, and I wondered suddenly if it was even safe to be here. I started to see small things skittering for cover, or so I imagined.

Just then I heard a familiar voice calling from the top of the stairs, “Who the hell is that down there? Are you a vandal or what? Show your face dam it!” called Lorraine. I guessed she was in a bad mood…

I stepped out so she could see me, and I called up to Lorraine, “Hi Stranger! It’s Stephanie. Sorry it has been so long!”

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“Oh you! Come on up. This place is empty now except for me. It gets a little scary being here all alone.”

I was shocked. Did she say all alone? Last time I was over here the place was fully rented and Lorraine  lived with her husband Frederick. I noticed cobwebs in the eves and dust on the stairs. My footsteps echoed as I climbed to the second floor.

Lorraine was standing on the landing when I reached the top, and I hardly recognized her. Normally Lorraine was smartly dressed in an outfit by Eileen Fisher and in her expensive shoes—the only shoes one could find in her size 6 triple N and six N in the heel. Her hair was always a shiny black helmet and she was always fully made up with dark kohl around her eyes.

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Instead, this version of Lorraine was barefoot wearing only a man’s robe tied with a silk tie. Her hair was white and stood out like a halo. When she saw me staring at her feet, she remarked, “I know. I need a pedicure, but I’m scared to step outside the building because of Covid. And honestly, I can’t reach my toes anymore, so I will have to be ugly for a while longer.” Indeed her toe nails were long and nasty with only a few chips of red nail polish sprinkled across their surface. I understood about the pedicure, as I too am unable to cut my own toe nails.

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There was nothing ugly about Lorraine, though. While she had always been so well groomed before, her makeup and dramatic hair color had overwhelmed her features. Now I could see how beautiful she really was. Her white hair fell in soft curls around her face, and she looked softer and more vulnerable. “You look amazing!” I told her.

“Oh, stop it! I look horrible. I am so fat. I need to go on a diet, but I am so bored stuck in the house like this. All I do is eat. I am going to fast until Easter I think, so I lose all this weight.”

“What does Frederick think abut this fasting idea?” I asked.

“Frederick? He’s gone,” she said, and then she burst into tears.

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