"A First Sorrow" - Short Story by Franz Kafka
A First Sorrow
PDF is attached below.
The Story Line
The story begins by introducing a trapeze artist who is a performer and operates at the pinnacle of his craft. So much so that he is willing to forgo a normal life in order to maintain his skills at their highest precision. He actually lives up on the trapeze above the theatre where many performances take place. He stays high in the vault, and though a bit strange, everyone is accepting of this because they realize that he is dedicated to his art. There are a few times, though, where he must come down as their show goes on the road and travels. But his manager tries to limit the time the artist must spend on the ground because he knows that the artist gets agitated when he's down from his trapeze. So the manager has a race car drive him immediately to his next performance theatre at high speeds. And if they have to travel further, the manager rents a whole train car for him so that he can keep himself up high in the luggage racks.
During one trip, as they are on the train, the artists seems to have some type of breakdown. He tells the manager that he will not perform any longer unless two trapeze sets are hung up for him, not one. He bursts into tears and is distraught. The manager quickly agrees and even tries to comfort him. Finally getting him to calm down with his new agreement, the artist dozes off. The manager, though, begins to worry about the artist. "Once such ideas began to torment him, would they ever quite leave him alone? Would they not rather increase in urgency? Would they not threaten his very existence? And indeed the manager believed he could see, during the apparently peaceful sleep which had succeeded the fit of tears, the first furrows of care engraving themselves upon the trapeze artist’s smooth, childlike forehead." The manager seems to think that the artist has lost his nerve in some manner and may be in trouble continuing on. 1
1 - Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis (The Schocken Kafka Library) (p. 234). Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.