She clung for life, dangling precariously from the twentieth-floor balcony trying desperately to figure a way out of her predicament. She couldn’t understand why events had taken such a terrible turn.
They’d met at the office party. He, the dashing top floor executive, she the tea-trolly lady. Their hands touched as she handed him the Kit-Kat she’d kept for him. She couldn’t help noticing that he was kinda shy. So, she smiled at him with closed lips, hoping to hide the gaps in her teeth, while lowering her head in a coy attempt at reeling him in.
It worked beautifully. He was smitten. “Please, may I have another?” he asked holding out his cup. She giggled, and pouring his tea replied, “Oh, you sound just like Oliver, Can I ave sum’ore!” She handed him the tea and flashed him another closed-mouthed smile.
“You like Oliver! I love Oliver! Have you seen the local theater group’s production?”
“No, no, I can’t say’as I ave, but what I’d give for a ticket to that!” She gushed, rolling her eyes in desire.
“My friend plays Mr. Sykes. He gave me two tickets for tomorrow night’s performance. Would you like to go with me?”
Placing one hand on her majestic bosom and the other on her ample hip she quipped, “Well, I ne’va! Why I’d love to!”
That night she drowned in the luxuriating thoughts of how wonderful her new life was going to be. She’d already picked the big white house on Lavender Gardens with its Romanesque architecture. She could just see herself officiating tea on the South lawn dressed head to toe in white linen and dripping in pearls and diamonds.
She must remember to be especially sweet to the tea-lady. No, no, best not have a tea-lady, best to have a butler. Yes, a butler, all buff and stuff. She giggled and snuggled under her grandma’s old army blanket.
The next day she was taken by surprise when he popped-in to her pantry at four o’ clock. She wasn’t expecting him, but was happy to see him.
“Are we still on for tonight?” he asked.
“Yes, I’ve brought my party dress,” she replied holding up her sequined, little black dress.
“Great, emm, can you use the back stairs to come up to the twentieth floor in about an hour and we can take my private elevator when we leave? I just don’t want any office gossip starting and causing you any distress.”
“Sure, I can do that. I’ll see you at five then,” she said giving him another of her closed-mouth smiles, but with great big flashing eyes.
OMG! I’m going to get to change in that lovely big bathroom of his she thought; neatly folding her little black dress in on top of her sequined silver shoes. She zipped up her backpack and hoisted it onto both shoulders, but thought better of that and decided to have it just hang off the one shoulder thinking that looked much more avant garde.
He suddenly appeared at the door again. “Maybe we should make that five thirty? Everyone will be gone by then and we needn’t worry so much about you being seen.”
“But still best to use the back stairs, yes?” He smiled.
“Yes, we wouldn’t want to start no rumors.” She replied forgetting to keep her mouth closed and flashing a wide toothless grin.
“My god! You are stunning!”
Her knees tingled and she held on to the doorknob for support. Exciting thoughts raced through her mind. This is the one! My destiny has found me! OMG! I’ve made it to the top!
Five thirty on the dot she slung her backpack over her right shoulder and quietly entered the back stairwell. She’d only used this to escape the building during fire safety drills. Going up the stairs seemed strange. And by the time she got to the fifth floor she was beginning to feel winded. She moved her backpack to her other shoulder. That was much better. With this second wind she almost sprinted up the next five flights.
Gasping for breath she sat down and took out a cigarette, lit it with her dad’s old Zippo lighter, and drew in a long puff. God that’s good, she thought. Coughing and spluttering she puffed on.
“Are you down there tea-lady?”
“Yes, be there in a minute!” She threw the cigarette butt to the ground and stamped it out twisting it to shreds under her Nike roadrunners. Grabbing her backpack she climbed the rest of the stairs two at a time until she got to the nineteenth floor where she gathered herself, swished her mouth with the cold tea left in her flask, spat it out, removed her hair net, and poofed-up her hair.
Casually, she traipsed up the last few stairs, pulled open the fire door, and slinked on to the executive floor. She’d never been so excited. “Hello!” she called, walking towards the mahogany doors of his office. “I made it.” She giggled.
“Nancy! Where’ave’u'been? Wot’ave’u'been’upto? Eh? Eh?”
Before she knew it she was being dragged by the hair into his office and thrown on to the parquet flooring she so admired. She continued to spin and ended-up facing the open balcony doors. It was a beautiful night, a bit cold, but fresh. She clung to her backpack and tried to stand up.
“Now, now, my dear!” he growled and stomped on her designer backpack.
That was all it took. She grabbed his foot and pulled him to the floor. “No one touches my Jansport!”
They struggled, pulling and pushing, tearing and scratching, grogging and spitting at each other, like back-alley cats until finally they rolled out onto the balcony. With one almighty heave he lifted her up and tossed her over.
“Shouldn’t ave done that Nancy! You know I DON’T take sugar in my tea! And I don’t like Kit-Kat’s“
As luck would have it that unused backpack strap caught and held tight to the bottom scroll on the iron railings of the balcony. As she swung in the early evening breeze she remembered her cellphone was in the side pocket of her backpack. If only she could reach it and call for help.
She heard him get into the elevator and it start to go down. She knew her Jansport would hold out. That’s why she’d bought it. It was the best! But she worried about her arms, would they be able to hold out? She reached in to her bra and took out the cigarette packet with the Zippo inside it, took out a cigarette, lit it, and drew deep. God, I could sure use a cuppa-tea, she thought.
After a while she heard like a demented scream from the street. Two minutes later she heard the elevator coming back up. She knew he’d just realized she was still hanging off the balcony and he was on his way up to finish her off. Quick as a fox she realized she could climb over the Jansport and climb back onto the balcony. She grabbed her cigarette with her gums and held tight.
Clawing her way up the pockets and pouches of her Jansport she managed to reach the railings of the balcony and pull herself up until she was standing on the balcony ledge. Throwing her leg over the railings she climbed back into the office and fell to the floor. Her Jansport was still hanging from the bottom scroll of the railings. Wanting to grab her backpack, but knowing the elevator would open soon, she ducked behind the open mahogany door and waited.
He stormed from the elevator enraged, and headed straight for the balcony.
She charged from behind and pushed him with everything in her.
He went flying over the balcony and she followed close behind.
“NanCCccEEEEE!” He screamed.
To which she replied, “I’m not Nancy! My name’s Tracy!“