The Balcony by Christina Lopez

After years of meticulous planning, I made my escape.

The Guard had opened the portal to the enclosed outdoors before disappearing into the room of many waters. Foolishly, it believed I was afraid of heights. I initiated this deception upon my arrival from the other, larger prison. I did not climb to the high surface, even when it was blanketed with meats and treats that teased the most wonderous aromas. If ever I was brought to one of the large squishy masses the Guard was so fond of, I would meow pitifully until I was assisted to the ground. I practiced jumps while the Guard slumbered.

I knew my strength, and it was mighty.

Triumphant glory radiated from every filament of fur when in one graceful motion I leapt atop the barrier that framed the enclosed outdoors. I surveyed the world below, the world I felt; destined to conquer. A tree stretched a branch towards me – it was the bridge that would lead to my dominion over the Guard and my original Captors. I could not contain the excitement roused by their imagined demise. I sang out a rolling trill and shook with exuberance before soaring through the crisp autumn wind, through the loving heat of sunlight, through the splendiferous expanse between heaven and earth, clearing the branch completely and falling into the trunk. Yes, into the trunk. I wasn’t aware that trees sometimes have hollow spaces.

What a terrible way to learn such a simple lesson.

I lay in the mud and cobwebs of that sudden universe, a sharp pain growing in my hip. I dragged myself to the edge of the space, and tried to claw my way out. My efforts were in vain. Hours passed. My claws grew dull. With the night came a damp chill. The agony of defeat faded to a singular muted note in the chorus of my pain.

Then I cried out – a plea to be found.