I went onto the balcony with my coffee, even though I had an ulcer. I’m afraid of heights.
The sunrise was beautiful. I wish I could’ve seen it.
In the corner of my eye I saw a bird but it was Mr. Aldermaston, from 2142. He was standing on the ledge between our balconies.
“Don’t jump!” I said. I’d seen that on television.
Mr. Aldermaston’s palms were spread out as wide as palms could spread against the wall. I could see him breathing. He was wearing his bowler hat. And a beige suit.
“Are you alright?”
He kept breathing, at least.
“Do you want me to call Emergency?”
Mr. Aldermaston shook his head.
I was worried that it would get windier.
A gush of wind blew Mr. Aldermaston’s hat off. We both watched it fall. It fell for about 21 seconds.
I looked at my watch. It was 8:30.
“I have to go to work,” I said.
When I got home, I went straight back out there. Mr. Aldermaston was still on the ledge. He had on the same bowler hat. I guess it was a different one.
The sunset was beautiful. Probably.
“Is there anything I can do for you?”
He didn’t answer.
“Would anything make your life better?”
He didn’t answer.
“Would you like some coffee?”
When I sat the coffee on the ledge, I accidentally looked down. I backed away from the railing.
Mr. Aldermaston edged towards the coffee. Exactly half-way between the balconies is a gargoyle. He had to manoeuvre over that.
“I forgot to ask if you take cream.”
He seemed to be drinking it anyway.
The next morning, Mr. Aldermaston was sitting on the gargoyle. He was wearing a different beige suit. I was pretty sure.
It was easier getting the coffee to him, now. I put cream in it, just in case.
I didn’t say anything to Mr. Aldermaston because I didn’t really see the point.
“It’s a nice sunrise,” I said, imagining that it was.
I went for a walk.
I was walking back. I saw a bird outside the apartment, only it was Mr. Aldermaston’s bowler hat. I picked it up.
Mr. Aldermaston landed in front of me.
I wasn’t so much shocked that he jumped, though I was. He bounced at least five feet in the air.
I dropped the hat.
Mr. Aldermaston survived. He disappeared for a long time. When he came back to his apartment, he was in an electric chair.
I see him on his balcony some mornings, in his chair, with his coffee.
We smile. We nod our heads, sometimes. Watching the buildings that block the skyline.
My Mistress had been sleeping. On a sofa in the Rose Parlor.
She opened her eyes.
“Love goes away. You wouldn’t… Who would guess? That it’s possible. It goes away. More … than anything, that one thing. If it could stay. Living. It wouldn’t be, so difficult.
“You could lose … your livelihood. A limb. Someone. Anything. You could lose anything. But that, is everything. It’s losing everything.
“It goes away. Love goes away. You’ll fall asleep, being loved. You’ll wake up. One morning. And it’s gone. Like a dream. It’s gone away. It’s gone.”
She closed her eyes, my Mistress. She appeared tranquil.
I did not disturb her.