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(Comprehensive Guide to Short Stories, Critical Edition)

A nineteen-year-old girl named Marta falls from the top of a skyscraper that houses apartments and business offices; the story chronicles her slow-motion toppling from the roof toward the street.

Marta lets herself fall from the building after she watches the brilliance of the sunset over the city, which “provokes dreams of greatness and glory,” and after she sees that the city she lives in is filled with mansions, diamonds, parties, and affairs. She hopelessly lets herself fall, perhaps because she recognizes that she cannot achieve the greatness and glory others have.

Marta slowly floats past various floors of the skyscraper and interacts with nameless inhabitants. She passes millionaires’ balconies, where she is invited in to join the cocktail parties. Marta refuses, however, saying she is in a hurry, and floats onward, feeling enormously satisfied that the rich people notice her; she feels fascinating and stylish because of the attention paid to her by the wealthy.

As the sun plunges into the sea and evening comes on, Marta continues past offices where employees sit in long rows, looking up at the falling girl, and somewhat enviously ask who she is and where she is going. Marta only laughs and falls, saying she is expected down on the street. She notices the street is filled with long black cars and that the rich in their sparkling jewels are entering the building for a party, exactly the kind of event that she had dreamed of ever since she was a child. She imagines that if she arrives on time at the entrance to the building, she will find the true beginning of her life, the romance and wonderful fate for which she has been waiting her entire life.

Unfortunately, Marta notices that she is not alone on her plunge: Other young women also are streaming down the side of the building, head first, waving as...

(The entire section is 482 words.)