THE LIVES OF STRANGERS

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The lady had a name; an age. I didn’t know them. She was married, by the look of it, when she got on, to the man who helped her up and then to her seat. Suddenly: her perfume. Sometimes you get to know the most intimate details in the lives of strangers. The same perfume as grandma.

It’s early morning now – before the bus ride – the hair disarranged from the night’s sleep, the makeup brush unstable on the rim of the sink, tiny bits of powder all over. Her eyes, hurt a bit by the light above the mirror, keep a fitful watch on the happenings outside. This face cream will smooth and hide the wrinkles, and the spray will shape and volume the hair. Coffee’s ready. The small apartment’s a combination of all these smells, and of the clothes hanging near the heat to dry. She opens the fridge, she opens a cupboard. A cookie, maybe two. Looks out through the fogged-up windows, to the whole day ahead.

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