tumbling balconies on a thumb

“I worked them. I wanted an apartment, and they’d give you one if you worked 500 hours building them, so I worked.”

He takes a long drag of his cigarette and squints his right eye as he exhales into the cold spring air.

“I lifted them.”

He motions up to block 5 behind us.

“The balconies.”

He takes another drag, exhales slowly, and pauses for a second. Looking up at the balconies all around him.

“It wasn’t my fault.”
“There was only a thumb.”
“I lifted them with the crane and he stood on the ground. He gave me thumbs up if it was in position, thumbs down for not. Once his thumb was up, I released the balcony.”

He takes a shorter drag this time, but interrupts the exhale.

“I had been doing it for 2 months! All day, everyday. Balcony after balcony. Then, when we were putting on a 7th floor balcony, I don’t remember what block, I don’t want to. It fell. The balcony fell. It wasn’t in place. I dropped it and it fell down the entire face and knocked off every balcony below it on its way down.”

“I quit that day.”

“He didn’t tell me anything! Just a thumb. Up or down.”

He squints his eye again as he exhales, smiling.

“I got an apartment here anyways..”

He smashes the cigarette into the concrete panel at his back, letting it fall to the ground.

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