Avital Gad-Cykman ~ To Catch Her


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.