She shuffles in head bowed, eyes down, a threadbare sweater bunched around her thin frame. Her feet are wrapped in thick wool socks, stuffed in sandals a few sizes too small and on this unbearably cold winter day, bundled tightly into plastic sacks. Her movements are slow as her bones creak a steady, painful melody.
"Excuse me, ma'am, I was wondering if I could borrow this pen," she says apologetically, a crooked smile playing on her lips.
Before I can respond, she continues in the same breath, "I promise I'll bring it back."
My heart breaks.
I pass her huddled in a forgotten corner, sipping from a two-liter of orange cola and reading a well-thumbed Bible.
I can't bring myself to tell her beverages aren't allowed.
Same sweater, same shuffle, but no plastic bags on this sunny day.
"Hello," I say looking her straight in the eye, "and how are you today?"
Her eyes dart between my face and the floor and her chapped lips part to reveal two missing teeth.
"Well, the sun is out today, so I am just beautiful."
And she's right.