Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lemon Meringue

For over a decade, I had driven the same route on my way to school.  Every morning and late afternoon, I would travel from my home in one town to the adjoining town—straight through the traffic light, turn left at the next light, then right, and…  After a while I noticed there were always the same people walking those streets at that same time. 

Some were clearly heading to the bus stop, carrying a lunch pail or briefcase.  Others were going to the Jack-in-the-Box to work, as their shirt and cap advertised.  But, then there were some other women who were either heading home to bed or heading out to work.  While these women didn’t wear a uniform, their profession was easy enough to guess.

At first I was shocked and even disgusted by the idea of prostitutes walking along my streets.  Once that passed, I developed a compassion for them, these women who looked into passing cars, cocking an eyebrow and giving a sassy smile to the men who slowed down.

There was this one young woman whose life I followed over the decade.  She was beautiful, but more than that, she had a ‘glow’ about her.  I decided to call her “Lemon Meringue” after a Strawberry Shortcake character. She had a halo of white blonde hair, and a sweet face.  There was a bounce to her step and when someone honked at her, a big smile and wave acknowledged that car.  She was full of life—that’s the only way to describe her. 

Over the ten years I observed her, she slowly changed.  Lemon Meringue grew thin, and her steps were slower.  She had never worn much make-up, but now her face was harsh with it.  One day, Lemon Meringue disappeared from the streets.

It bothered me.  I knew the motel the prostitutes used for business, but I was not bold enough to stop there and check for her. 

About that time, there was a short article in the local newspaper about a woman’s body found just outside the town.  It was her.  Then a garage mechanic was arrested; a string of prostitute murders were attached to him.

I never knew her real name, where she was from, or if there had ever been family looking for her.  Even now, as I drive down those streets, I recall how she waved and smiled. 

I wonder if anyone grieves for her.  I wonder if I might be the only one.  I wonder.

In Memory of all Lemon Meringue Women 
who Have Disappeared


  1. Amazing how if you just look you can see the change in peoples lives you go by every day. Awful that it came to that too. Sometimes what once seems like a good idea, becomes a black hole many can't get out of.

  2. Poor girl. Such a sad life and sad ending. You may indeed be the only one who grieves for her.
    I have two poems about street walkers, "Dark Nights" and "In The Streetlight Spotlight"...funny, no one noticed that was what they were about. I think maybe we don't like to think about it..just pretend it doesn't exist. Bless you for giving a thought.

  3. What an amazing story, Susan. I can see this woman and my heart aches for her. What you know of her is so tragic. Fascinating.

  4. Dear Susan,
    This poignant posting is filled with a realization of what that young woman's life must have been like. It wore her down and finally led to her death. I wonder about the garage mechanic. Did he have any appreciation of the deep down goodness that resides in all of us? The goodness that so often people do not see because they look only for what they want to see. And did his own actions kill that goodness within himself? What might that young woman have become if our society had given her the opportunity to explore other possibilities?

    I'm grateful today that you grieve for her. Now I grieve too.


  5. Thank you so much. I believe that people are not gone while they are still remembered. You have given this woman life over the years and have now enlisted others to remember her too.

  6. Lovely post. It's so sad to think how many 'lemon meringue women there are out there.

  7. I don't know that I see any prostitutes around where I am, but there are many people--eccentrics and homeless(I assume they may be homeless)--that I've seen on our streets for many years and have watched them change, rarely for the better.

    A Faraway View


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