Flash month is going great. Here’s another rough cut. I didn’t quite get where I wanted with this but it might be okay after editing.
The East Balcony
On day forty-seven of my sabbatical, someone slipped a folded note under my door. Meet me on the east balcony at sunrise. I’ll bring mimosas. I could do this. I just had to make the first step. I slipped my feet into my house shoes—no-slip soles, no laces, or buckles. The note felt heavy in my hand. Unfolding it, I read it again. The east balcony. No signature. The east balcony was across the building, and I’d have to run-walk to get there before the sun came up even if I didn’t take time to change clothes.
Doctor Fraley’s voice echoed in my head. “Present a good front, Carley. Let them see you’re winning.”
The yellow dress would be a good front, even if it did make me look sallow. A rust-colored lipstick helped the pallor though my teeth looked dirty behind my fake-perfect lips. Drinking mimosas at sunrise. Who wanted a date with me? Since I hadn’t had a shower in three days, I wrapped a headscarf around my hair, feeling suddenly cosmopolitan. For a second, I was back in my old life, headed for a sunrise cruise, drinking champagne in the limo on the way to the marina. Hippies on bicycles waving at us as we rushed by. The man du jour laughing next to me.
I glanced out the window. The first lights were just touching the skyline. I rushed out the door, slamming it behind me.
“Hush, Carley,” the night nurse said. “People are sleeping.”
I gave her a nod and strode down the hallway. Some patients had privileges and could walk the grounds. I wasn’t allowed to leave the building without an aide, but I could go to either of the two balconies. I turned at the B ward and again just before the hallway to the baths. I picked up speed and jogged the last stretch of hallway. I wasn’t worried about being stopped. The only thing down here was the east balcony and there was no escaping that way. I burst through the double doors just as the sun made a glorious appearance at the horizon. Stunned by the sight, I almost forgot the reason I was there.
The man du jour stepped up. “Carley.”
He handed me a mimosa. I took it, smiling gratefully. His arm settled on my shoulders as we watched the last of the sun’s colors blazoning the sky. “You don’t belong here, Carley. Let me take you home.”
Home. The flat in London or the ski lodge in Austria? Home with my husband in the castle he casually bought one summer during a trip to Scotland. “I can’t leave.”
He stepped onto the balcony wall and held out his hand. “You just have to make the first step.” Our feet were solid on the wall and his hand felt warm in mine. I glanced down to the concrete below us. A flash of yellow caught my eye. “Just the first step, Carley.”