Stories of Franz Kafka First Sorrow
This short story examines the character of a trapeze artist, a profession esteemed and separate from the rest of the community.
"A trapeze artist - this art, practiced high in the domes of the great variety theaters, is acknowledged to be one of the most difficult within men's reach - had arranged his life, at first simply out of perfectionism, but later also from the force of a habit which has grown tyrannical, in such a way that he remained, for the whole period of each engagement, day and night on his trapeze." First Sorrow, pg. 182
Although the trapeze artist is at the top of his world and talent pool, he is also at the top of the community, as he spends all his time in the dome in his trapeze. He has little time and little social contact, save the few people who climb up to speak with him. And although this trapeze artist has no problem with heights and near-death experiences, he has trouble with and a fear of traveling. His manager, therefore, tries to minimize the traumas associated with traveling by arranging comfortable trains and sleeping quarters.
One day, the trapeze artist pleads with his manager to arrange for a second trapeze to be added to his act. The manager wonders why, for after so many years, he has always performed with merely one. The trapeze artist expresses his fear and concern about flying in the air with simply one trapeze; after all, two trapezes are always better than one...and safer, too. It is much harder to fall when there is more to use in the air. The manager quickly agrees and realizes all the variation that it will bring to the act.
Later that night, the manager looks at his star artist. He sees a furrow beginning to develop permanent lines in the brow of the trapeze artist.