aggie’s gift

Aggie looks like the police photo of a ruined children’s clown finally busted for drugs. All she needs is a handheld name board and number. To the side. Full profile. Washed out, no make-up, hair still out in banded clumps. Dark brown eyes screwed up against the flash. Heavy lower lip rolling out from ill-fitting, tobacco stained dentures.

‘I went up that eye hospital,’ she says. ‘The doctor there, he turns round to me and he says I need an injection. What for, I says. Well, he says, you got that much pressure building up, if you don’t have it done soon your eye’ll pop out. Oh, I says. Yes, he says. I’ll make you an appointment. Well – if you’re that worried you think my eyeball’s gonna explode, why don’t you give me the injection now? I’m here, aren’t I? Oh, he says. Alright. So then he gets out this needle and he jabs me in the eye. Not just once, mind. Four times. Four times! It’s no wonder you give people a bit of a run-up, I says. It might be a little sore he says. Sore? He might as well have scooped my eye out and jumped on it. Anyway, I was on my way back into the waiting room when I saw this little old woman sitting on her own, looking pretty cheesed off. So I went over to her and I give her an orange. Honestly – she was so pleased. It was like I’d given her the world. I said to her, I said It’s just an orange, love. Don’t worry about it. I’m sure someone’ll do the same for me when I’m sitting there as old and hopeless as you.’

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