Akhila Jagdish: The Girl on the Balcony

Spring '10 TOC

Even through the darkness, I could tell she was crying. Wrapped up in a blanket, her long hair whipping across her face as she stared across the road, into the other apartments. I wonder if she was, at that moment, wishing she could be anywhere but where she actually was.

No one in that apartment building ever shut their curtains. You could see deep into their living rooms -- the small dog that is always left alone; the young girl who rocks herself for hours in a darkened room on the tan sofa; the couple who without fail dance as they make dinner. Watching them made my ridiculous life bearable. Sunshine breaking through clouds. The girl on the balcony intrigued me. She would often come outside and watch the world. More often than not, she would have a glass of wine in her hand. She always clutched the balcony rail. Like she was going to fall.

I would see her, walk around her apartment, with a man I can only assume is her boyfriend. In the warmer months, they would sit outside on a picnic blanket with mounds of small tea sandwiches and plates of cold cuts and cheese. And endless bottles of wine. She was young. And laughed a lot.

There were times when I would be sitting on my balcony, smoking a cigarette, ashing off the edge; I would see her walking home. Always at the same time, always listening to music. Always on the verge of tears. She looked tired and afraid, constantly turning her head to look behind her. Sometimes she would clutch her phone. I would pray the ash wouldn't hit her.

On Sundays, they would make brunch -- you could smell the eggs and bacon and pancakes. Mimosas would be endless, they laughed while they ate. Sometimes feeding each other strawberries with their forks. I liked the way they looked with each other.

She would get a package almost weekly. She would run and grab the scissors from another room and cut open the box on the dining table. She would take out shirts, books, makeup, food... She would smile whenever the boxes came. I wondered what she was trying to drown with all the purchases.

She jumped off the balcony one cool summer evening. The tea sandwiches and cold cuts were laid out on the blanket. Ready to eat. Ready for the night.

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Not Enough Night
Not Enough Night
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