I saw it slip away; the hope, the innocence, then finally, the light. She told me her name was Laetitia but I’m sure it was something more like Sylvie or Laurie. She was eighteen and from the Saguenay, “c’t’un trou” she said, and lifting her chin proudly with a measured dose of teenage defiance, followed with “le jour de mes dix-huit ans j’ai sacré le camp”. She would make it on her own she said. Nobody had ever given her anything she said. A few weeks here and she would have enough money to go to acting school in Montreal she said.
Over the next six months I watched her work the corner beneath my apartment. A car would drive by slowly and she would sidle up with feline grace to ask the driver if he wanted to ‘go out’. The scene repeated itself endlessly, only the cars changed. After a few days she stopped asking me if I wanted to ‘go out’ and we would chat for a minute, she would bum a cigarette, never looking me in the eyes always watching the street behind me. After a few weeks, maybe a month, we no longer chatted, she would bum a smoke and I would watch her walk down the sidewalk, former feline grace replaced with a twitching prowl. I’d seen it before, the cocaine was doing its thing, turning her into a caricature of her former self.
I saw it slip away. The light was gone from her eyes then I never saw her again. After Laetitia it was Tiffany, then Sasha, Ariane, Josée…the city, the corner where I lived, had an endless appetite for youthful dreams, it preyed and fed on light.