Through the heavy rain hitting my window ledge, we see her balance on the tightrope, her arms rowing in the air. She would give her life for her art, we say to each other. This performance is the real thing, says a man with a long mustache like Dali’s.
A gray cloud with translucent ends lands gently over the top of her head, her stretched neck, her breasts and ribs and belly squeezed into a skin tight golden garment, her sideways-stretched arms, and her bent knees. She gives one small step after another through air.
We could do something else, but we are comfortable. We know that a tall building at the downtown’s dirty edge is held by the tightrope of the slinky walker. When we slept she came over to secure the knots. Now, she will arrive like a gift.
I’d kiss her cherry, says a man with a felt hat. The rain turns into showers, and acrobat glides along the shaking rope. Her mouth makes a silent “oh” against the loud sound of whipping rain. Our rooftop is full of soaking spectators, who applaud her with clap, clap, clap.
She is not that thin, we see now that the gap is closing, nor very young. Her hair isn’t shining gold but moist silver. See, this is what they send us, a woman in a blue suit says. The rain punishes our rooftop and my window, and the rope between us and that other part of the city is growing too tight.
The walker stands with her arms stretched sideways and bows with grace as if my window leads into a temple. Her feet are tied with waterproof ribbons, says the man with the mustache. Even I could do tightrope walking if I knew I wouldn’t fall, says the woman in a suit. Far away, the downtown building melts into fog.
When the walker breathes, little white clouds form within the large gray one. Her silver hair falls over her eyes. The air is red with expectations. I can untie the knot, says the man with the felt hat. The crowd presses me against the window. She smiles the smile of the very tired. I outstretch my arms.
Avital Gad-Cykman’s flash collection Life In, Life Out was published by Matter Press. Her stories have been published in The Literary Review, Ambit, CALYX Journal, Glimmer Train, McSweeney’s, Prism International, Michigan Quarterly Review and elsewhere. They have also been featured in anthologies such as W.W. Norton’s International Flash Anthology, Sex for America, Stumbling and Raging, and The Best of Gigantic. She lives in Brazil.