So I was just in a cafe writing my book. I was at a table for two. Next to me was a table for four and there was a woman sitting there already when I set up my laptop and got my coffee.

As I became engrossed in my writing, my attention would occasionally wander to her. She had a large beverage filled with ice and she kept stirring it with a straw. Stirring and stirring. Like she needed the noise. She got up and walked by my table and suddenly I was overtaken by her body odor. I sensed she might be homeless. Something about her faraway look.

I kept writing. I saw her go up to the counter and say something to the cashier. I kept writing. A few minutes later I saw three people in uniform come into the cafe. “Did someone call an ambulance?” one asked. The cashier pointed to the woman next to me, who was sitting there quietly. I was dumbfounded. She had asked them to call an ambulance?

The paramedics approached her with care, started asking questions. She said her stomach hurt. They asked where specifically. She said her right side. Questions. Answers. Questions. Answers. They asked if she could be pregnant, when she’d menstruated last. I was further dumbfounded. They asked where she lived. She said Jersey City.

The cafe manager approached, took one of the paramedics aside. She told him that the woman had been there since 10 a.m. and all she’d had all day was coffee and sugar packets. It was 9:15 p.m.

They took her blood pressure, asked her if she could walk to the ambulance. She nodded and they escorted her out the door.

I stopped writing.