They walk with heavy steps, one foot in front of the other. Left then right. Left. Right. Always in step. No one leads, no one follows.
They walk with their arms behind their backs. One mittened hand wrapped around the other wrist.They don't smile. Wrinkled faces brace the cold wind. You can't see them. They are hidden behind fur-trimmed hoods and thick, heavy parkas. They wear boots with zippers in the front. If you try to make eye contact, they avoid your gaze and look right through you. Just another snowflake in a cold gray winter day. The Russians. They walk the streets, seven days a week and they never, ever speak.
I picture Josephine Lubisnki, thirty? Forty years ago? Her hair is in tightly curled rows from her beauty parlor appointment and tucked safely beneath a scarf tied smartly at the chin. Her coat is quilted, her limbs solid. Her gait, slow. Her eyeglasses are silver and curled up a little at the edges like cat's eyes. She's off to Mitchell Street or headed to Southgate. She stands at the bus stop and doesn't notice the cold. Not anymore. It's always been this cold, so you put on another sweater.
I try to pretend it's not freezing and that I am tough enough to brave the winter. I leave my gloves in the house on purpose because I don't want to wear them and curse loudly when my hands hit the sting of the icy steering wheel.
Josephine rolls her eyes at me, mumbles something in Polish under her breath and shoves her gloves into her pocket just to prove how tough she is.
When will I get used to this?