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.
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!”
“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.
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.
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.