She’s sat motionless at the bottom of the stairs. She has her back to us, fur lined hood up over her head; not moving.
Love, you alright?
It is 10.30 on a Sunday morning and me and my other half are off to the climbing wall.She’s not moving, sitting on the bottom step, just outside our front door. It is Sunday morning. I can see the lacy pink T of a g-string on the pale skin above her jeans. It’s twisted off centre.
She leans uncertainly to the side and twists around to look at us standing in our doorway. I see her blotchy face. Her eyes are flat and dead. Ah, of course what was I thinking? She’s a prostitute, a druggie. In all senses of the word, a human wreck. Have you seen Shawn of the Dead? Like that but without the laughs.
You can’t sleep here, this is our home. You’ve got to leave.
I’m firm, assertive. It worked last time.
I wasn’t sleeping, I just fell asleep.
I am angry and a bit frightened. I don’t want to leave my flat and find a prostitute not moving, outside my door. How long had she been there? All night?
She doesn’t get up. She picks up her handbag and starts to scuffle around in it. My heart is pounding. Then I notice the pigeon. It must have flown up the stairwell. It is flapping against the glass, trapped. It rests on the window sill just in front of the woman.My other half is standing next to me. We’d talked about this, what to say to them. I think it is better for him to stay out of it. It is better for me ask them to leave. They have so much grief from men. More respectful.
You CANT stay here. Get OUT!
My voice has changed, I’m angry and shouting. My insides are shaking. She just looking inside her handbag. There are three things inside it. They rattle as she sticks her hand in. I see a comb but no keys. She is sitting up with a very straight back, every few seconds she sways ever so slightly from side to side. She is off her head and she is not getting up.
YOU HAVE GOT TO GO.
I’m just getting my things together.
You’re not checking out of a FUCKING hotel. You haven’t GOT any stuff to get together. GET OUT.
Ms Respectful in da house.
She still doesn’t move. I start shouting at her for real now. Go away, go away. She looks at me and does a small laugh. This is horrible, my stomach twists. She mimics me saying, Go away, go away softly under her breath.
I’m calling the police.
Another small laugh. She says ‘so what?’ with her shoulders.
9 9 9
Then, Sorry, all our operators are busy.
I think, that actually HAPPENS! Shit. My other half is looking at me. Wha? he mouths.
She continues to sit and continues to re-arrange the three items in her handbag.
Police please. The is a woman outside our house and she WONT GO AWAY.
I am shouting down the phone at the operator.
She is being threatening towards me.
She stands up at this.
How am I being threatening?
I give our address to to the operator.
I’m not being threatening.
She sways slightly where she is standing. I tell the operator that she is one of the prostitutes that works on Lordship Rd. The ragged dirty skinny woman laughs again. It is not a real laugh, more a world weary acknowledgement of how shit the world is.
The operator tells me she will pass my message to our community safety officer. My message?
The prostitute walks down the stairs. Mumbling. Wasn’t being threatening…
So we go to the climbing wall. And they say climbing is dangerous.
I’m thinking a lot about truth and the way we tell stories and change them to make them better or more entertaining.
So for the sake of honesty, it was more like 11.30 – we’d had a bit of a lie in. And I didn’t say that thing about the hotel, I thought of it later.
Everything else did happen. The pigeon, the g-string and everything.
And talking of truth, she wasn’t threatening me, in the truest sense of the word. She was there, blocking our way down the stairs and I felt very threatened by her. Does that mean I lied to the police?
I read this and thought ‘how sad’. I have mixed feelings about sex workers too, and I thought you captured the line between empathy for her and your own anger really well. It was also a compelling account of a real event.