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Sitting on the Steps
by G Emil Reutter

Slight September breeze was a little relief from the heat as I walked down the street. The café on the corner closed but she was sitting outside; not flashy, sweats, tee shirt and flip flops. Smoking menthols and playing with her phone, she looked up and smiled; we exchanged pleasantries, her accent Russian. I went to the corner store and picked up my paper returning to the street; passing her by we exchanged pleasantries once again and I crossed the street to sit on the steps and read. We exchanged glances every so often. As an old woman walked up the street, she saw me glance across the street and simply said, "Hmmph Natasha!"

I heard the Russian's cell phone ring and she quickly got up and went through the door to the apartments above the café. In a few moments, she reappeared wearing a sun dress, heels and carrying a small black purse. She walked to the corner and in moments a Lincoln pulled up and she climbed in.

Silver bowl full of water

Sat upon the roots of

the old tree with twisted bark.

Calico cat appears from nowhere

Circling the bowl,

a watchful eye on me.

She drinks, disappearing

to where I do not know.

A beat up Saturn rumbles down the street. The driver revs the engine every chance he gets, as a race car driver on the fast track to nowhere. He parks the car and revs the engine so much that the muffler falls off. I am glad for his car fills with smoke and he shuts it off. A few minutes pass and he starts it up again, down the street and around the corner he drives as the sounds of his Saturn fade into the September evening.

Red ember sits

at the end of cigarette;

inhaling, exhaling

smoke fills the air.

Coughing, hacking,

spit on the ground.

Crush the ember out.

Drink some coffee

read some more

light up another one.

Two old ladies walk along the sidewalk enjoying the cool evening air. Chatting quietly about things young folks wouldn't understand. They circle the block a few times before retiring to their apartments.

Time passes slowly

for those too young

to understand the ticking

of the clock.

Time passes quickly

for those old enough

to understand the last

tic of the clock will be soon.

I sit on the steps taking in the views as I wait for my wash to dry. It seems endless, as if it will never dry and I may run out of quarters. It is time to get up as I notice the welts from the hungry mosquitoes on my calves. I head down to the laundry room and take out the clothes, fold them and head up to the apartment. I hear a door slam and I look out the window and I see her, a little rumpled looking heading to her apartment door. For just a moment when I met her, she reminded me of the girl next door. Dressed casual, no makeup she was actually a beautiful girl. I hear the rumbling noise once again, the Saturn returns and this time he parks and shuts it off. How times change, the girl next door may not be the girl you think she is at all. Time is a precious thing; it passes quickly and we never hear the clock tic until that last tic, the one we can never avoid. I am not sure if I desire to hear that last tic when I am observing people, sitting on the step and doing the wash.

About the author:
G Emil Reutter is an author/poet and essayist from Philadelphia. His website is

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