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Agnes on the Balcony

by Marian Schembari on November 22, 2015

Sometimes I play around with fiction. And sometimes I publish it here.

Agnes didn’t know why she did it the first time, but it didn’t change her addiction now. Every morning she woke up and vowed never to do it again. That today was the start of a different life. At 87, it’s surprising she thought it was as simple as a switch she could simply turn off, but we all know addiction is a funny disease.

She’d last until around noon, her attempts to distract herself by making lunch, ineffective. Her mouth would water, her gums would tingle as if rubbed down with Bengay. She’d suck in her cheeks, holding her hand against her mouth, trying to stop the sensation. To take her mind off the whole damn thing.

But then her mind took over, frantic, and suddenly she was fantasizing, salivating over thoughts of those innocent pedestrians walking by, five stories below her tiny balcony, the tops of their heads a perfect target, a virginal bullseye begging to be hit. A piece of her on a piece of them, their bodies carrying her down the street and into shops and under hats and nestled onto pillows and pressed against headboards in the middle of the night. No matter where they went, she was there. No longer a small part of the world, but a part of theirs. Hundreds upon hundreds of theirs.

Unable to contain herself any longer, she grabbed a bottle of water from the fridge and ran to the balcony door, almost breaking it with the sheer force of its slide. Agnes leaned over the edge and – yes! just in time – a bald man in a suit was passing right below her. She swished the saliva around her mouth, sucked in her cheeks, aimed, and spit, the small ball  landing squarely on the man’s head.

“What the —–?”

She ducked, giggling.

Crouching below the walls of her balcony, she waited to hear his footsteps again. Shifting slightly to adjust her bad hip, she peered over the edge. His back was to her as he walked away, still rubbing his shiny head with the cuff of his suit jacket.

“Nailed it!” she sang to herself, just as a young mother with a stroller came into view.

Agnes hurried to unscrew her water bottle and took a quick swig. Gotta keep the machine lubricated.

Again, Agnes leaned over the edge of her balcony, aimed and fired. Again, her aim was perfection.

For the rest of the afternoon, Agnes occupied herself on the balcony, as she had every day. Today was no different, and in her blissed out state, had forgotten why she ever tried to stop herself. It’s not like she ways smoking. No one ever knew what she was doing.

But on this particular afternoon, curious about the old woman who was always peering down from her balcony, Jane was looking through the lens of her camera from her living room across the street. She had hoped to capture a meaningful portrait of the lonely old woman, watching the world pass her by. But in that exact moment the shutter flickered to life, Agnes reared back and hocked a loogie on the head of one young schoolboy named Franz.

Jane froze and slowly peered down at her camera’s display, squinting to make sure she was actually seeing what she thought she was seeing.

It was unmistakable: the ball of spit halfway to the ground, the oblivious boy, the pure joy in the old woman’s eyes.



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