The Old Lady on the Steps



124th Street and Second Avenue, 10035

Neighborhood: East Harlem

Every day when I come home from a very hard day of school, I walk up the gray stone steps of my old dusty yellow house. And every day there this old lady with a large housedress and old decayed leather slippers is sitting at the top of the steps. She is always sitting in the same spot, nothing budging an inch but her eyes are steady moving. She smells of Ultra sheen hairspray and old Ivory soap and sometimes of Newport cigarette smoke but I never see her smoking. She reminds me of my grandmother for some reason. She has three grandkids, two boys and a girl. Normally I see them running up and down the steps. The two boys are twins and the girl is the oldest; she brings the mail to our house sometimes.

I wonder what kind of person she was when she was younger. Maybe she was an actor, or dancer. Where did she live before she lived here? Her grandkids speak Jamaican, maybe she is from Jamaica. Maybe she likes sitting out there to watch the little kids jump rope on the sidewalk, or maybe to watch the endless drama by the people in the house next to ours. I asked my mom why does she sit there all day and she said, “Maybe she’s just a lonely old lady.” So as I walk down the steps to go to the store I walk by the old lady but this time I stop to say hello.


This essay was written as a part of a HREF=”” TARGET=”_new”> workshop.

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