The first thing I noticed was the nylon netting, black strands, clumped onto her limbs like uncooked ramen. Then, the piercings. Uneven areolas. One was of varying shades, a color wheel, a pie chart.
She walked in a hurry, staring straight and stepping ahead as handbags of strangers clanged against her jutting hips. I noticed, after walking the same route home and back for the last two years, that out of all the underdressed people, she did not ask for money. She was like a mannequin that wasn’t a toothpick, firm enough to stand behind glass when sales disappointed, though able to contort herself to everyone’s liking when enough people walked by. She didn’t have to wear a dress. She sold it based on your scent. The coconut oil in your hair. Potato leek soup on the side of your tongue. When paid for a dress, she delivered, spinning those strands into something big, saturated with her blush. Of course, one was lucky to see this performance, on days when standing naked amid seventy degrees of complacence seemed a pretty sane suggestion.
I caught her at a bad time. She circled around a parking lot while I tried to find an underground bistro that supposedly had the best Italian sandwiches. I couldn’t find the staircase, and began to sweat. But I was nothing compared to the droplets that outlined the points in her stilettos.
She walked towards me, just as lost, and asked me what I knew about downtown traffic.