Capture a set of eyes and the rest will follow.
Come one, come all to the circus where the girls smile, the boys show strength and no one ever leaves.
Torches flickered across the main tent. Behind it stood shadows of disgruntled circus folk. None were pleasant to the eye, or rather not until they had their faces on. That look they spread painstakingly across their features. A look that suggested they were free spirits, such a falsehood they showcased at half past eight each night.
Jamie didn’t wish to pretend but she didn’t have a choice. She had been sold of by her father and in his words, there be worse places I could’ve givin ya into that woulda payed a kings price. He told her she was lucky. She did not feel any such fondness of her fortune. Only that she wouldn’t allow it to be her fate, not forever, but there was no escape.
She bathed before a show in rose petals, the very same flowers she had been awarded from her audience the previous night. She had a way with her tiger. She named him Silverheart for his courage. He lay nearby at all times, his soft fur in chains of-coarse, but always by her side. One might view this as cruel. He was not the only chained creature in her tent. Only, his chains were visible, hers were not.
Rehearsal today were running as planned. Silverheart leapt through an inflamed iron bar. Jamie hadn’t been here long to know this trick was not just asked of him, but demanded through what some of the men called “training”.
Sometimes the circus folk let the paying strangers leave. Other times they did not. They had just fled from Arentail for such reason. Jamie had never killed anyone, but the circus had a way of diverting ones eye. They hadn’t known they had drunk a heavy sleeping powder, but in the morning their wallets will be bare and their jewels, lost.
This show was going to follow that plan. Jamie nervously waited and when it was time she told the audience to raise their glasses to Silverheart. One by one each fell into a sedative sleep. All but a woman Jamie saw beginning to head towards the circus door. Jamie looked to see if anyone noticed but they were all looting by this point. Jamie hushed the stranger out of the tent. The elderly lady didn’t say a word, not even of thanks and left.
They travelled two towns over for the next show.
At ten at night, while circus guests took in the warm air, and after all the equipment had been put away, Jamie saw a shadow beside her tent. She walked with Silverheart in a leash.
The elderly lady from the previous night came into view. She offered a gift and Jamie did not turn the woman away. Together she followed the stranger out of her tent and onto the road. A large hot air balloon stood in front of them with a big basket – big enough even for Silverheart. Jamie didn’t say thank you and required no convincing as her and Silverheart were carried above into the night sky.
Patrons who came to the show remembered that night as the flying circus, Jamie remembered it as the day Silverheart almost ate her from the fear of it all, but when all was said and done, both parted ways free of their chains.
~Written by Stephanie Kentepozidis