Fathom 2002



Inside Cover




Kate Buttery (3)
Julie Perkins(5)
Jennifer Lyn Durkee (2)
Kirsten Horn
John W. Parker (2)
Elena Krasnova
Jonathan Samuel (3)
Sarah Riley
Melodie Umanetz
Olivia Brown and Jessica Young
Fergus J. O'Connor V, Esq. (2)
Gareth Robinson
Charles Ryan (2)
Solange Hupe (4)
Dani Anna Jansen (2)



Angela Pratt
Travis West


Angela Pratt



The Balcony

     A man stood on his balcony in the rain. At this moment, the rain was exactly what he was feeling. He looked out across the street to the buildings in front of him and watched as the lights in the apartments flickered, on then off, on then off. He felt drowsy, drugged almost by the sound of the rain hitting the roof, falling to his metal balcony and cascading down to the street below. His eyes closed as he remembered.
     She was shouting at him again, he didn't know why and didn't really care. She was always shouting at him for one reason or another. This time it was because he had forgotten to bring home the milk like she had asked. No, that was yesterday. Today, he had left his papers strewn all over the kitchen table while he had gone outside to have a smoke. He had really needed one.
     His work wasn't going well. He was supposed to design some new way for his clients to make more money, like they needed any more. All of his clients were already quite well off, thanks in large part to him, but they wanted more. Everybody wanted more. From him. He was the one who was supposed to get it done. He was the one responsible if it didn't happen. You couldn't get blood from a stone, he thought as he flicked the butt end of his cigarette over the railing.
     He watched as it spiraled down, down toward the street until he lost sight of it, down there among the garbage and mud of the back alley. It was down there, somewhere. He wondered what it was like to be a cigarette, to be lit up and smoked for a while, then to be cast away when the tobacco was gone. His mind wan­dered to other things, things he couldn't remember now, something about being cast off. Or maybe cast away.
     This his wife's shrill, abrasive voice sliced into his thoughts and he turned away and went inside, forgetting everything he had been thinking of. He shed his skin on the balcony and slipped into something more to her taste, a suit of armour her words couldn't get through or past or around. But it failed sometimes.
     It had failed tonight. He opened his eyes again and looked vacantly out across the alley, noticing that the lights had burnt themselves out and only empty holes remained. He wondered suddenly why he never saw anyone else on their balcony, why it was that he was the only one on this side of the building to use it. Maybe he was the only one who appreciated it. Maybe that was it: he was special. He made a scoffing sound and lit up again, drawing the smoke into his lungs as deep as it would go, then holding it for a long time. This was heaven.
     His wife was out tonight. Some ladies meeting or a night class. It depended on what day of the week it was and he was too com­fortable to check. Besides, smoking wasn't allowed in her house.
     So he turned his back on his apartment and leaned out over the railing, relishing the taste of freedom he got from being out­side, alone, in the rain. It was small, he knew, but it was at least his. He took another drag, then tried to blow smoke rings like his father had taught him years ago. No, that hadn't been his father, he had done that with his best friend, Danny. Where was Danny now, he wondered. Ah well, probably living the good life like they had planned.
     "Damn!" he shook his hand in pain and tossed the butt of the cigarette over the railing. His fingers would be sore for days,
thanks to that cancer stick. He took one last look at the building facing him and turned to go back inside, but his foot caught on a broken piece of metal. He tugged at it uselessly, then leaned on the railing and reached down to free the snag.
     The railing gave suddenly and he pitched over the side, down toward the floor of the alley. He could see the garbage and the mud that awaited him, along with about ten years' worth of cig­arette butts. The ground came rushing up to meet him, much faster than he had anticipated. He hadn't even managed a cry for help before it was all he could see, filling his vision, spread­ing out across his world. At least I won't have to listen to the shouting anymore, he thought, just before the ground disappeared.
     Then he blinked and he was back on the couch in his living room, staring up at the face of his wife as she leaned over him. How had he gotten here? He lifted an arm to touch his forehead, certain that there must be some evidence of his fall, but his arm refused to move. Then he remembered.


last updated August 17, 2007 | © 2007 Fathom Publishing
poetry, prose, and artwork © individual authours | website created by Alana Paul