Clinging to the railing with blistered hands, crying out in a feeble, cracking voice, the young man faces his coming death. The steel gives a wrenching screech as a few more bolts rip free from the wall where the paint is melting in smoky streaks, and the entire balcony sinks another agonizing foot.
Tears streaming from his face, he throws a dusty sleeve over his eyes and hugs the slim, steel rod even tighter. He can feel where they welded the two pieces of metal together. He can feel where his sweat has oiled the surface. He can feel the stored warmth from his grasp. He can feel the solidity under his thumb. He can feel the friction as he rubs a finger down it's length.
Is it strange that such thoughts run through his mind as death is so near? Is his mind trying to distract him for a few more moments of simple life?
He looks to the fire that rages within his apartment. He can feel the ferocity. He can sense the deadly heat. He can see where it clings to the wall. He can smell the burning carpet.
He twists to get a better view of the city. The building across the street is a stack of offices with shiny windows. A few of the rooms are thronged with people. They're watching him. He waves.
He looks straight down. There are the fire trucks, come to spray water at the fire. Their ladders are not tall enough. Look at all the people. They've got their hands on their heads, and they're watching in disbelief. They're blocking the streets. A lot of people are going to be really angry about the traffic jam.
The man looks away into the distance. Look at that. The sun is streaked with orange across the ocean. It's beautiful. He smiles and lets out a sigh. His grasp loosens.
He looks up with a thoughtful gaze. The sky is blue, a lofty jet puffs a white line out across the heavens, and a single seagull coasts blissfully overhead. He smiles and lets go of all tension.
He gazes down into the window of a cafe. A musician is playing a tune, and a young man is sitting with a young woman, they're sipping coffee and talking in gentle tones of laughter and joy. They wear the newest fashions and live with style and confidence, their smiles lighting up the world.
The man smiles at them all, and reaches his soul out to all the people with kindness. They all have so much to live for, and they live in such a precious world. The man laughs with freedom and throws his eyes to the immeasurable depths of the sky. And savoring this final moment, he lets everything out, his spirit soars, and his body slips from the burning balcony.
The wind feels incredible. It's refreshing. He breathes such fresh air. It's a breeze that has drifted through the city up from the sandy beaches and the salty waves and the surfers. It reminds him of the beautiful summer nights he used to spend out on the beach with friends, playing his guitar and singing songs.
The street is approaching. He can hear a radio playing somewhere. And the birds are chirping in the park. Look. He can even see the playground. The children are enjoying the afternoon, running and playing tag, kicking the soccer balls, and rolling down the hills of grass between the weeping willows.
The man looks across the shiny vehicle roofs that are backed up to third street. They're pumping exhaust out into the atmosphere, sitting idle, and yet forever hungry for more fuel. A few irritated horns are being sounded. What's the rush?
The air is rushing around him now.
But he asks again. What's the rush?