Word Count 412
By Sharon Collins
The warm rush of sudden air tenting her soggy blanket of old newspapers was a blessing, if
perhaps the subway grate upon which she lay, was not. Rigid iron bruising her beneath or a
frosted cushion of November sidewalk… not really much of a choice. She wished she’d been
lucky enough to receive one of those crocheted, plastic shopping-bag-mats they were giving
away at the homeless shelter. That might have cushioned the rub of the rusted iron. She had
actually gotten one, a few months back. It was kinda pretty too. Some anonymous do-gooder
had woven pretty pink Victoria Secret bags into the ubiquitous gray of the Walmart variety.
Tweed she thought or maybe Hounds-tooth. She had been the last of the least-lucky on line that
day. They had run out right after her. Carl, one-legged Carl, with his old birch, stump of a cane
was right behind her. He was the first of the most-unlucky on line that day. He looked really sad
when the pimply-faced -volunteer shook his head to Carl’s out-stretched hand, so she donated
hers to him. Gray was a good color for Carl.
Anyway, she’d donated a lot in her life. She’d donated pieces of herself in every phase of her
life. In fact when someone dropped a coin in her cup, the clink made her think of all the times
she’d donated, especially all those generous pints of Rh-negative blood. She could feel the pinch
of her three-gallon pin between her shoulder blades, where she used it to keep her broken bra-
strap together. Sighing she considered the wreckage she’d become. She had a picture of
herself. She kinda looked like a moldy, old piece of Swiss cheese. Sorta yellow and stiff with
age. Lotsa holes. Holes, where the pieces of herself had been that she had donated. What the
heck, it was a good picture, she thought. She was after all sixty-one, goin’ on a hundred and
sixty-one, she felt.
Anyway, tonight she thought back to all the donations: the ones she’d given and the ones she’d
been given. And she kinda thought to herself, this piece of cheese, this old piece of cheesy
cheese that I am, is almost gone. There’s maybe only one piece left to donate. She smiled to
herself as she thought that perhaps that this last piece of cheese of herself would be just enough
to satisfy a rat. She pulled her soggy blanket over her head and went to sleep.