Traveling Circus: Star Child

It has to work, it has to. The rings over the carnival floor suspends me above the other freaks with painted faces. I reach out to the crowd as I bend into a knot, my spine rolling out from the tight latex my father put me in. I hold myself up with a single leg, twirling with the stars in thin silk and wire praying that this will work. It has to, it has to. This is my only chance to make my family proud as they stand on the beams playing games with the crowd. Their eyes are never on mine though I look for their support. The rings are my only comfort in the chilled air choking my breath as I breathe in the sweat and salty scent of spoiled popcorn. Dancing with my thoughts the fire breathers come out in tall thin unicycles, rolling on the net-less floor crunching the gravel with silly painted smiles. Swaying with the music, the wire that coils around the silver ring starts to spin with the rotors. I could feel it snagging but I couldn’t stop now, the show had just begun.

The crowd cheers for the lion tamer and his three black lions’ eyes of gold chalets, I wait in the shadows of the top of the tent. With each twist of my body the wire snags more but I stay calm as I know this routine by heart. Cooling my sweat, a faint breeze seeps in through the flaps and for a moment I forget where I am, thinking back to the lakes by the hill glowing in the moon’s light. I think back to my father’s words when he first joined the traveling circus, we were meant to be here, freaks who must perform.

I snap back to reality when I notice the silver ring curl tightly around my right leg, it starts to spin on its own without my body movement. I want to say something to the other performers, but they will just ignore me like they would a child. I choose to stay silent as the performers finish and land, the wire whips and snags tighter and tighter against the metal bar. Crying softly the pain grows by the side of my hip, I reach for the wire with one hand but my effort makes it worse. I cover my mouth squeezing as tight as the wire. My name is called but too faint for me to hear as the spotlights flash and I’m taken to the center. The metal creaking metal slab needs to be fixed but there wasn’t enough money for that. As stands full of eyes slowly rise to face me up in the stars, I smile as wide as I can while slowly losing feeling in my leg. A soft strum of a guitar and the chimes of piano keys signal my act, and I do what I can acting as if this was supposed to happen. Nothing was going to go wrong, I couldn’t disappoint my family again. We moved because of me, I know it, but they kept that hidden from me for so damn long. This was my only chance to make them proud.

As I spin in an array of silk tied to my waist, half of the ring and the numbing pain of my leg that kept me hooked gives out. I slip only a little, but it was enough to make me drop and cling to the silk, shredding the thin sheets as they unwind. It has to work, it has to. I scream into my white knuckles drawing the remaining eyes up. Stop looking at me, please stop looking at me. A woman gasps and the rest of the crowd and performers watch me hang for dear life, my leg the only thing keeping me from the decent. As I give one last cry, I land on my father’s eyes and the wire pulls my leg out. There was nothing to keep me from the fall, the metal slab leans and tumbles with me to the net-less ground. I can’t remember when I hit the ground, but the pain was non-existent.  I slid out of the metal bar and watched as the blood rushed from somewhere, I only noticed where it was coming from when I could no longer feel my right leg. The metal slab took it clean off, but I was too focused on my father to care what happened to me. He just sighed, so heavy and filled with disappointment. I had failed him again, but it wasn’t my fault but the machine. He didn’t care only walked away with the rushing crowd to the exit. I blacked out before I could see him go through. A couple weeks passed and I was separated from my family, I didn’t get to see their faces as I was bought out by another circus. This was the price I had to pay for making a mistake, one that cost me my leg and my family.

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