The cleaning company wanted Anya to start at 6:30, but in spring and summer she came earlier. It was light enough to see the cigarette butts and empty cups, the loose pages of free newspapers and occasional oyster shell left on the patio. She held the biodegradable bag -- this city, Anya knew, had strict rules about environmental cleanliness -- in one hand and with the other picked up the trash. She also cleaned the street by the kerb, easier to do at 6:15 as not too many cars had yet parked, not too many people coming yet for their coffee.
Marea saw the woman cleaning several times a week, but did not think the woman saw her. She did not appear to ever look up from her task. She looked to Marea like a wood sprite, or maybe a Soviet gymnast, her build light and compact, her copper hair cut in a thick wedge, a style not seen much since the 1970s.
Marea, whose husband owned the coffee shop, had tried to make eye contact with the woman before, to no avail.
"What a gorgeous morning, right?" she said today.
Anya looked up. Could she just smile and nod? But the woman was waiting for a response.
"Please," Anya said. "You say more slow?"