There is a ledge near the Ponte degli Scalzi and that is where I sit on my last night in Venice, smoking cigarettes and watching lovers on the bridge, vaporetti chugging by in the Grand Canal.  A vaporetto approaches the docking area and slows.  The boat is crowded and a middle-aged woman, her red hair pulled into a frizzy bun and shopping bags weighing down one arm, stands up on the bow and waves enthusiastically towards the ferry station.  Another woman waves enthusiastically back.
I watch and wait.  The boat gets closer and she doesn’t sit down, doesn’t grab onto the railing, just continues standing off-kilter and waving madly.  The boat eases into position—closer, closer, almost there.  I realized I’ve sucked my cigarette down next to nothing and stub it out.  The vaporetto hits land and the woman is knocked off balance by the impact, dropping her things and pitching forward.  A warm flood of satisfaction spreads through my chest; I smile and light another cigarette, take one long, slow drag.

Out of everything—claiming the expensive bakeware was mine and refusing to give it up when my roommate moved out, firing an employee for things I know she didn’t do, pinning a married man against a wall and biting his lips for just-one-second, convincing my sister that the dress she bought for our mother’s second wedding was too slutty to wear and then showing up in the same one, a million other micro-crimes against humanity over thirty long years—it is the all-encompassing gratification I felt watching that woman falter and fall that makes me wonder if I’m a bad person.

About Caroline Swicegood

Caroline Swicegood is an American writer and educator living in Istanbul, Turkey.  Her fiction has appeared in Bird's Thumb, Upstreet, Prick of the Spindle, and several other journals, and her nonfiction has appeared in The Literary Bohemian.  She is currently working on a book manuscript of connected stories set in Venice.