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