The mirror of habit

On Saturday mornings I climb a set of stairs for exercise. To get there I walk for about two miles along a busy road. Despite the rush of passing traffic I take a guilty joy in repeating this route. Having once entertained a particularly senseless fantasy walking this way, doing so again has become a quest and a ritual.

Along this road is a small and dingy block of apartments with a row of parking spaces in front. Here, every Saturday, I come across the same woman. She is in her early thirties, I think. She is titanic and sits in one of these parking spaces on what I can only assume to be a small camping stool. Every Saturday she has what sounds like the same argument with the same person while she swears and smokes.

“Fuck you,” she stipulates with her cigarette.

She listens for a second or two, and then interrupts. “No,” she stabs at the air. “Fuck you.”

The first time I encountered her I was startled, thinking that she’d addressed me.

“Oh no,” she smiled and waved me on. “You’re good.”

I often wonder about her. Is her apartment too small to have this argument? Perhaps. Who’s on the other end? Perhaps it’s a friend of hers and it’s simply their habit to bicker. Does she do this every Saturday? It seems that way. She’s always there.

Today I saw her again, but it was Friday. I had the day off and decided to go climbing and get it over with. She sat where she always sits, arguing and smoking as she always does.

Does she do this every day? I wondered as I walked past. Here I was, after all, on a Friday, and there she sat, draped over her camping stool.

“No fucking way,” I heard her say as I walked on. “It’s that same old guy again.”

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