Hard Month

by

10/12/2001

W 57th St & Broadway, New York, NY 10019

Neighborhood: Midtown

The Cosmetics Plus at 57th and Broadway is having a clearance sale. They’re going out of business. I buy two small white tubs of Cool Goo at 20% off.

The woman behind the counter is carefully made-up, but her appearance she self-describes with blunt accuracy to no one in particular: “My bags are twice the size today.”

“It’s been hard to sleep,” I say to her. “It’s just a haaaard time,” she says, drawing out the word. “Ever since the Trade Center,” the place itself standing in metonymically for the event, “I’m up half the night.”

“That’s where I worked,” she tells me. “That was my job. On the mezzanine. They transferred me up here, and now it’s closing.”

“And your family and friends?”

“I lost like six customers I used to see regularly. They’re all dead. And one of my close girlfriends.”

“I’m so sorry,” I say.

“First that. And all this war shit. And now this damned store…” She walks away to the other register to rummage for something, to get me a bag. “Is there anywhere else they can place you?” I ask.

“They’re closing all the stores. The entire chain. Shuttered. Here you go, Sweetheart.” She hands me my bag. “It’s just been a haaaard month.”

“Well, good luck to you,” I tell her.

“Thank you,” she tells me. We look each other in the eyes. We smile. Sadly. “It’s just been a haaaard month.”

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