I look like a casual, laid-back guy but it's like a circus in my head. -Steven Wright
Remember when we drove past here that day? You pointed to a building said, “Visit me here one day when I’m old,” and we laughed. We laughed because it was an insane asylum and you were too normal to ever end up with those freaks. We laughed because it was a good day and our favorite song “I Don’t Like Mondays” was playing. That day we didn't care what day of the week it was. Back then, we didn't have anything better to do. We were magicians and we were performing our signature disappearing act for our parents who had never seen any of the shows. Instead, they performed tricks of their own, turning our money (that we thought we had hidden so well) into brown glass bottles which we took out for the recycling every Monday. Our mother was the tight rope walker juggling three jobs, but never getting any applause from the audience. I should visit you, but visiting hours are Mondays and I'm too busy these days.
I want to be a freak. I’m craving the circus. All day I’ve been thinking about building a makeshift hut in the forest to huddle in, starting out with just two slabs of wood and a tarp to keep the rain out. I imagine I’ll get uncomfortable, so after I get set up there I’ll need some sort of cushion. One that folds out into a bed is preferable. Oh, and will you teach me how to use a drill?
After I get settled, I’ll flirt with the cashier from Home Depot until he gives me free insulation. If I play my cards right, he’ll probably give me a heater too.
My birthday is coming up, so some nice knick knacks would be a great touch! Don’t worry too much about me. It’s a great spot in the middle of the woods. I won’t be bothered too much.
(This plan does rely on general good luck. And imagination. I’ll also need a gun for intruders).
I don’t think it’s weird to think I would be happiest sitting in a circus tent around what we freaks call ” the round table” (because we are knights in red and yellow striped costumes). The bearded woman next to me is making out with the dwarfed acrobat. The tightrope walker watches and sulks. He is just as agile and flexible, but he is not unusual and so Julie will never like him as much.
Sometimes I feel inclined to wear ugly polka dotted things all week. I wish I could do things like this. I think most people wish the same. I’m sure you do. So come on dad- wear polka dots with me! We’ll be like Fred and Ginger. Won’t you feel freer? I’m sure your law firm won’t mind.
I am very jealous of downtown people little kids are afraid of. They might be heroin addicts but at least they are following their personal whims.
Thanks for all your help!
P.S. If I made up my own language and refused to speak anything else, wouldit look bad on college applications?
P.P.S. How many bullets can I buy for $4.50?
P.P.P.S Are you still mad about the Mr. Grumpy mug?
Time is a circus, always packing up and moving away. -Ben Hecht
Revelry in the Night
Finding me in fortune’s tent is odd enough, but finding you, Erin Morgenstern,
Morning Star glinting in my peripheral vision
under the light of the same soft tapers as me, is rather a painting
of my shiniest dreams. Have you come to watch the tarot cards?
I know you’re still looking for a twinkle-eyed publisher to take in
your own pack of 78, to then hand back to the children sitting by
their rain-beaded windows, homesick,
still not old enough to drink wine or consider drinking tea
as you exuberantly do on days you can’t see the maddened delight of life
striding down the street. You see me looking and I consider revolving clocks and gardens
of frozen vitality. Tattoos and dinner parties. A flicker of a bowler hat, 1895.
You smile slowly. How odd it is to see the flesh of the paper and fountain ink–
because you surely write with fountain ink–
that once adhered me to my couch, standing across me as silent as when I flipped
the first page of that book of elegant secrets. The tarots predicting your faith dance and flicker
as they emerge – to look would be impolite but I don’t need them to know what
vulnerable invigoration you’d provide the world, even when your hairs fade from black to grey
to snow. Perhaps that is why we are meeting here, in fortune’s tent.
Perhaps that is why we are here at all.
Entertainer and audience, meeting in a designated medium
to then fade, departing as greater spectres than before.
Everything will be going so well, for so many days. And then it's 8:43pm on a Tuesday evening and I have forgotten why I want to be alive.I will be a walking ghost- grey under the eyes, black in the heart. And then on a Saturday afternoon at 2:36pm, it is suddenly crystal clear why I fight so freaking hard.
When I was Four
Long ago, when Dad still lived with us, he sold tickets for the circus. I would sit with him in the booth, and sometimes if I was especially good, he let me punch the holes in the yellow stubs. I spent long afternoons sitting with him, in a little booth behind the lit up sign that said T ckets (the i had fallen off long before). But it was after the circus closed its doors to the public that the real show began. Each night he would pick me up so I could see over the bars of the lion’s cage, my little four year old hands reaching towards the great beast. The trapeze artists would practice daring, single handed flips, and underneath them, the tattooed ballerinas twirled by, tripping on ribbons, then catching themselves just in time. He would drag me through, though I tried to look at everyone. I would go home and dream of joining the circus someday. Now I just dream of having him back.
When they saw her sculptures, they said it was like looking at a living creature stand very still. Sometimes they swore the stone was alive, breathing shallowly and blinking so slowly that it was hardly noticeable. She sculpted feathered birds from wax, nymphs in water from stone, cherub feet from wood. She had hands with miracle properties.
When they saw her child, they took him away. They said he was so hideous, so sickly, so unholy, that they took the babe and flung him into the abyss of the sea. They prayed to their gods, hoped that they had removed the bad omen before it could taint the sculptor and her miraculous hands. They thought that perhaps the child's horrid features were the doing of the hands—by giving so much life with her hands, it sucked all the life her womb would have given.
When they saw her sculptures, they said it was like looking at a parasite break free from its host. The grotesque features of her creatures always had their mouths open as if screaming or moaning in agony and pain, their eyes screwed up as if crying, their hands open as if trying to to grasp another to hold. There were dark red stains on the wax, fractures in the marble, cracks in the wood. They say she did sinful things in her workshop to create her sculptures. They said she would stare into the abyss at the dead of night and sing soft lullabies under her breath.
Eventually, they say she lost herself. She stood at the edge of the abyss, leaned forward and fell in. She left her last sculpture incomplete, or so they thought. The sculpture was a skeleton of a great beast made of white marble, clutching an unborn child made of red wax. They say at the dead of night, there is crying from the workshop. There are dried tear-tracks under the hollow eyes of the beast in the morning. They locked up the sinful thing, hoping the sculptor with miracle hands and her monster child would be forgotten, but they could not. They say they can't forget.
They say, they saw, they remembered.
The Girl Who Swallowed Fire
She was the girl who swallowed fire.
The girl the audience would cheer on as the torch
Went farther, farther and farther down her throat.
Yet every time the girl swallowed fire
A white, searing pain would spread,
Burning through her defences.
The defences she had spent months establishing.
The fake smile coated in lipstick, the tear-proof mascara,
And pretending everything was okay.
She was flammable.
The fire swallowed her soul,
It singed her memories,
Engulfed her thoughts,
And scorched her heart.
Because a fire spreads
Until all that remains are ashes.
This Girl That Would Smoke Outside
I would see her sometimes, this girl that would smoke outside. Always within a distance of a meter or two, hovering around the foul ashtray attached to the red brick wall that was the outer shell of my work. I would smoke my cigarette and look at her. She would smoke hers and be occupied by her phone in a red protective case, I couldn’t help my eyes, they were drawn. I tried to be cautious with my looking, trying only to take in her heat with as much discretion as her looks would allow and my eyes would agree. There were times I would lean against the red bricks about halfway through my fire, and she would be on my right, on her side of the ashtray outside of the salon she worked at. I would look at her at just about the same time she would look at me. Then my eyes would rush away boiling. To me she was a dream, a separation of flames, I could never touch, but she approached me one Wednesday. The wind was blowing, I had come out to lean against my red bricks, happy to see she was already out here on her side smoking. The wind picked up her hair like the television and I was half handicapped by her three feet long, shiny, brown silks blowing around on this Autumn Wednesday and half handicapped by the wind itself from lighting my cigarette. She caught me looking of course. I retreated focus to my cigarette hoping I wasn’t obvious but I could still feel her eyes on me, on my neck, there was heat to her gaze. Over the flicking of my lighter that begged me to question whether man was ever supposed to master fire, I heard her heels click their way over to my side of the red bricks, she stopped in front of me. I put my lighter down from my mouth and she gave me a sly smile, shifted weight from heel to heel before with only her brown eyes focusing on my cigarette, lit the tip of it in a small burst of flames. I puffed, thanked her, numb to her trick. She gave me another smile, and then clicked back to her side of her red bricks.
the trapeze sends a breeze from the air through the trees
that seem to surround the tent
the sound of the flip and the fear of a trip leads the artist to think of descent
how can you fall when the line of the rope defines your every intent?
sweep through the crowds and leap as you bound 'till where you were becomes where you went
E.C Montreuil Strub
There will be flaw
There will be fault
There will be pain
There will be death
Whether it be in words
Or in actions
Spent with energy
Or with breath
Few shall see
The fault in man
Life starts with pain
And ends in peace
Though the in between
Is never fair
'Carnival' Cassia Pelton
A little freaky when she walks on thin ropes and throws fire like it's not a flame
A little different when she rides an elephant walking on it's tip toes
A little crazy when she dives into a pool that would only reach my ankles
A little freaky when I realize she's a little like me
My sister, Ellie, took me to the circus for my fifth birthday
She bought me a balloon for my birthday from the clown
The clown smiled and wished me happy birthday
My sister, Ellie, took me to the circus for my sixth birthday
She smiled at the clown longer than anyone else did when she bought a balloon for my birthday
The clown smiled and wished me happy birthday
My sister, Ellie, took me to the circus for my seventh birthday
She didn’t have to pay the clown when she went to buy a balloon for my birthday that year
The clown smiled and wished me happy birthday
My sister, Ellie, took me to the circus for my eighth birthday
She spent more time talking to the clown with the balloons than she spent with me but I still got a balloon for my birthday
The clown smiled and wished me happy birthday
Aunt Macy took me to the circus for my ninth birthday
She bought me a balloon for my birthday from the dollar store because the clown was missing just like Ellie was
She smiled and wished me a happy birthday
I didn’t go to the circus for my tenth birthday
I sat by my sister’s bedside and prayed that she would be able to buy me a balloon for my birthday next year
No one smiled or wished me happy birthday
My sister, Ellie, took me to the circus for my eleventh birthday
She didn’t buy a balloon for my birthday from the clown that year; instead she cringed and cried
The clown smiled and wished me happy birthday
My sister, Ellie, took me to the circus for my twelfth birthday
She brought the police along and I got ten balloons for my birthday that year
The clown smiled and wished me happy birthday
I brought my brother to the circus for his fifth birthday
He didn’t understand why I wouldn’t get him a balloon for his birthday and I didn’t explain
I wished him happy birthday and got him ice cream instead
The sign outside the tent says, “Welcome to the Freak Show,” in peeling circus-red paint. She walks in and sees a collection of people sitting on boxes behind the rope that separates the spectators from the freaks. The man with seven fingers is making eye contact with no one and the bearded lady is biting her nails. As the girl walks, she bumps into a man with sweaty armpits and a whining little brat with sticky fingers. Everybody seems to be gathering around one particular attraction. She wants to get a good look, and after some shoving she sees them- the Siamese twins. She wonders what it would be like to be attached to somebody for your entire life and never be able to get away.
Now the freaks are on television, the freaks are in the movies. And it’s no longer the sideshow, it’s the whole show. The colorful circus and the clowns and the elephants, for all intents and purposes, are gone, and we’re dealing only with the freaks. -Jonathan Winters
ROY G. BIV
(Man standing on stage looking at audience)
Man: I’m blue. (man immediately turns a dark shade of blue) Not like the colour really, (man turns back to normal skin tone) but kind of sad. I’m usually a happy person, and I am happy, (man turns yellow) I really am. But I’m also sad. (man turns blue) I guess I’m a mix really. (man turns green) Willa left me. I’m not mad about it (man turns red) I’m really not, no hard feelings. I promise. (man stays red). But it put me all out of sorts, I don’t really know what to feel. I can’t make a decision. (man starts flashing between all different colours very quickly) I - I can’t - I don’t know (man starts to falter over his words) I’m too - I can’t tell ( man turns grey. His head slumps over and his body goes limp, but he remains standing. Silence)
He taught her how to draw in numbers and how to paint the world with her fingertips
He taught her how to turn her thoughts into colours and how to put picture frames around all her daydreams
She showed him the constellations in her freckles
And convinced him that there was moonlight in his eyes that couldn’t be caught in mason jars or photographs
She showed him a blinking city skyline where the only nighttime darkness came from the shadows in her mind
And he squeezed her hand until she stopped shivering
Though the wind continued to blow
She asked him one morning when the sunrise was still just a promise that the sky was struggling to keep if he was happy
And he told her that as long as the maps on the palms of her hands matched up with where he wanted to go, the sky could be falling and there would still be a smile on his face
Poppies bloomed on her cheeks and spread their roots down to her collarbone
And she didn't quite know what to do with the bouquet of words he had just handed to her
He didn't believe in fairy tales so she tried to hide the paper cuts on her fingers that she had acquired through trying to find her happy ending, and realized that she had stopped looking for one altogether since the day she met him
She had six strands of seashell-coloured hair, six heart tattoos near her six favourite freckles, six white-out nails, and only ate six noodles when Shirley, the lunch lady, made her a bowl. She wore seven layers of socks, seven anklets, seven bracelets on each wrist, and seven earrings that made her ears sag. She had eight Sex Pistols pins on each of her eight bombshell jackets and yet she only ever produced eight drops of sweat. She had specks for eyes, crayons for eyebrows, and piercings for a nose. She took nine pills every morning and I couldn’t get over the fact that people called her a freak while they were shoving bananas up their asses knowing that was the only action they’ll ever get.
Every country gets the circus it deserves. Spain gets bullfights. Italy the Church. America Hollywood. -Erica Jong
The Fair Rests in Town
Death is what came to mind when I first entered the abandoned fairgrounds. Not the kind of death that makes you sick to your stomach with its stench, but the kind of death that feels empty, like something important has been lost or is just out of reach so that you know it’s supposed to be there but isn’t close enough to get back. That’s what the fairgrounds were like- soulless. My elder sister said the fairgrounds had given her the heebie-jeebies when she snuck onto the grounds with her friends, but I didn’t understand why. The only feeling I had from being at the fairgrounds was overwhelming sadness and loss—so much loss. But we’ve never really seen eye-to-eye, the two of us.
In the background, I could hear the creaking of the ferris wheel as it turned. The electrical power had long been cut off from the fairgrounds, but the wind kept the apparatus moving. It was mechanical, moving without any purpose except to keep the motion going. It wasn’t difficult to imagine that the constant noise of the apparatus was once the gleeful shouts of the numerous fair-goers coming to enjoy a day of games, rides, and spectacles. It was a far cry of that now—an echo, maybe, that resonated all throughout the park. Wherever you were, it was impossible to escape its noise. It’d be enough to make somebody go crazy
A murder of crows hidden in the swaying tree branches began cawing and I couldn’t help but jump, startled. It felt as if I’d been caught doing something wrong. You don’t belong in this place, child of the present, you don’t belong in this place abandoned by time. I withdrew my hand from the stall and continued walking deeper into the fairgrounds. I couldn’t turn back the way I’d come. It didn’t seem right. If I left now, I would miss something. Maybe I’d miss the something that was just out of reach, the word stuck on the tip of my tongue that my mouth was so close to forming, that my throat was so close to vocalizing.
The wind picked up and sent a gust through the grounds. It sent the crows into a flurry and they stained the sky with their black forms. The fallen leaves were wrenched into the air. They looked like they were running away. The stalls were behind me, and I wanted to look back one last time. I had the urge to say goodbye. I knew I wasn’t going to be returning to the fairgrounds; it was not a place you visited twice, for fear that you did not make it out a second time. I’m not sure from where that idea stemmed, but it was a fact that had long been burned into the minds of the neighbourhood children.
I don’t know how long I spent there, but eventually even the sparse light of the dark grey day disappeared past the horizon. I was finally at the edge of the grounds. I turned, taking in the sight one last time. In the darkness, everything was less tangible than ever before. The abandoned rides and empty stalls had once been something I could see, touch, and understand. Now, they were nothing but an impression. I almost felt the memory of the grounds slipping through my fingers. The taste of the word had fallen from my tongue, gone and unformed. The echoes had tapered off, unheard by my ear.
I left the abandoned fairgrounds.
The ferris wheel groaned.
As the great Britney Spears said in her 2008 pop hit “Circus” (available on her album of the same name), “There's only two types of people in the world, the ones that entertain, and the ones that observe.” Circus performers, from clowns to acrobats to tightrope walkers and jugglers, entertain, and we, the audience, observe. We take pleasure in their oddities and talents. The ringleader controls his band of odd men, and the performers hop around under the bright red tent to bring joy to spectators. As the great Britney Spears said, “[They] make it hot when [they] put on a show.”
(from a Harvest of Short Stories, Notes and Question)
has been widely popular in Vienna
now in Berlin
through an anthology
Skedaddle. Be off reptiles.
Blind passage, treeless grasslands.
100 peons, peasants
A feeling of being sick
Raise the water
fated soon to die
Inflicting serious wounds on men
Dialogue, skillfully handled in revealing character
of these purposes the opening between
represent the opposing forces
List the measures employed
and the counter-measures employed
In the course of the story, the author uses the horror
that most impresses you and your choice
By means of a diagram,
picture the river, the dam, the concrete moat
With careful reading
In which order to you think seems most real to imagine? Why?
Rule those words whose meanings
would give a sight one could never forget
Your own description of suitable points
mandibles: 100 yard bombardment
i feel something new…
i don’t think there’s a name for it//
(will i feel this way again?)
‘i think i know what you mean,’
i felt it, settling & resting in my
stomach, no longer feeling just
‘sorry’ or ‘sad,’ no longer
slightly ‘worried,’ slightly
‘something scary but exciting,’
bubbling & churning underneath
the things that let me
breathe still. hair a mess,
eyes squinty & half-broke.
‘cautiously making friends,’
‘moving too fast to see,’
‘stuck in stressful situations,’
‘golden clouds and metallic blue sun.
purple sky. shaved face.’
wearing humbleness as
kindness. telling myself
to be quieter, cooler,
always on edge, looking
out for someone who’s more
awkward than i am.
someone more afraid of life
than i am.
shyness= kisses only to the cheek.
saying “no” 4 times to know i mean it.
missing dates on purpose.
losing everything & rebuilding
without the parts that make me nervous.
filling the gaps. (calmly). (silently).
i think i’m going to stay at
mom’s from now on. i don’t
think i like it here very
-how do you feel?
about to blow & settle anticlimactically.
about to take a nap. a little sleep.
this silent squirm,
a kind of dirty something
that drifts & tries to
leaving dog-paw prints
underneath my skin.
-how do you really feel?
‘an anxious tingling sensation,’
a paper mâché head,
a heart and soul, with
paper mâché feelings.
‘too timid to speak in class…
ignoring other, meaner boys,
& letting the anger out later.’
soft inside with a pseudo-hard
The Ferris wheel was too big. I cracked my neck trying to look up to see the top of it, but all I could see were moonlight soaked clouds seeping through the spokes and compartments.
I reached to tug on Mummy’s sleeve to ask if I could ride the Ferris wheel, but my hand could not find her arm. I looked around, but like the top of the Ferris wheel, the grown-ups were too tall and I could not see their faces. I could not find Mummy.
I sat by the entrance to the Ferris wheel, making a tent of mud to mimic the large tent that we visited earlier in the night with the lions with the funny little hats and the bears that wore tutus while waiting for mummy to come back for me.
I was finishing my second tent and perching a cracked twig on the top like a mast when a pair of muddy shoes appeared inches away from the mud tent. A pair of knees, then a waist, then a pair of calloused hands, then a freckled face joined the feet in front of me. The man’s wrinkled eyes met mine and his teeth flashed white as he smiled. His coat bore the emblem of the circus (a brass circle with a lion roaring in the middle) and I recognized him as the man who opened the gate to the Ferris wheel.
“’Allo there, little man. Are you waiting for someone?” Being a stranger to me, I turned my head to look away from him, and instead focused on rubbing the mud crust from the toes of my boots. I shook my head as discreetly as possible, more to myself than to him.
“Nice tent you got there.” He leaned forward and adjusted the twig so it was not crooked anymore. He smelled like caramel apples (like the one mummy had promised she would buy for me) and smoke, not the kind that daddy smoked when he had friends over and that caught in my throat and pinched my eyes, but like the smoke that flies off a bonfire on a cool summer evening and brushes all the bugs off your cheeks.
It was at this point that I decided I liked this man and his muddy shoes and calloused hands and freckled face.
“Are you lost, little man?” I looked at him and noticed wrinkles crumpling in the corner of his eyes as I nodded. He frowned a little, and then stood up, so he was towering above me like the Ferris wheel.
“I think I know the perfect place to go then.” I was not sure if he was talking to himself or to me, so I said nothing and staggered to my feet, abandoning my mud tents. When I looked up at him, he did not look so tall and blurry like other grown-ups. I could see the folds in his cheeks when he smiled at me and reached down to grab my hand.
He held my hand even though it was crusted with mud as we walked through the people to the entrance to the Ferris wheel. I looked up at it again, the top still as obscured as before. The man said a couple words to the man at the gate, then walked me through and sat me down in a compartment next to him.
At this point I could not contain my joy and a smile broke out across my lips, which made his eyes laugh. The Ferris wheel lurched into motion and we were carried up into the clouds.
“Let’s keep an eye out for your mum, little man.” He said, leaning out of the car to peer into the night. I copied him, and felt panic tremor in my throat. It was the highest I had ever been from the ground. I watched as we slowly spun higher and higher into the night, as the lights of the circus become dots on the ground, and the grown-ups became mice skittering out among the booths and stands.
The smells and sounds of the circus were lost up here, no longer could I smell the reek of pigs from the petting pen, or hear the tireless beckoning of the men at the booths inviting me to toss rings or squirt water at clown faces.
As we climbed higher, the silver clouds that before had seemed so far away were beginning to tickle my face. Moisture hung heavy and cool in the air, and each breath I took was exhilarating.
The Ferris wheel lurched to a stop. We were at the top of the wheel, and I could see the whole world from where I was sitting. I looked up at the indigo sky, and watched as the stars embedded deep in the folds of night winked at me. The man leaned over and pointed a knobbly finger up towards a grouping of stars.
“That’s the Big Dipper.” He pointed at each star and drew the constellation with his fingertip in the sky. I raised my hand to mirror his and traced the image.
A squeal came from down below and the Ferris wheel began moving again. We were carried from the cool misty cloud and back down to the ground.
I saw a red flash down by the cotton candy stand that I recognized as being Mummy’s scarf. I pointed at this and the man followed my finger down to the ground.
“That’s your mum?” He asked. I nodded.
We slowed to a stop and the man got out first, before lifting me by my armpits to the muddy, soggy ground. He nodded at the man working behind the gate to the Ferris wheel as we walked away, towards the cotton candy stand. I grabbed the man’s hand as we walked so I would not get lost again. I looked up into the sky to see the Big Dipper again. The sky was clogged with smoke and clouds, obscuring any stars that might have been winking at me.
The man guided me around a corner and there was mummy in her bright red scarf. She held a cone full of cloudy pink cotton candy. “Is this her, little man?” he asked. I nodded and ran into her to clasp my arms around her waist.
She and the man exchanged words while I ate the cotton candy, the residue sticking my fingertips together. Finally Mummy and the man stopped talking and turned to me. Mummy asked what I had to say to the man.
I looked up at the man, the blurry night sky framing his head.
“Thank you, big man.”
Luck in my Pocket, Sun on my Hair
(From Silver Blaze by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)
Silver Blaze descending
He made a careful study
An expression of annoyance
I cannot think how I came to overlook it
You expected to find it?
He took the impressions of each of them
clambered among each direction
Indeed! I should like to take a little walk
that I may know
my pocket for luck.
Some signs of quiet method
I wish we do not owe it
Certainly not, with decision
I should let the name stand
The colonel bowed
You will find we can drive
slowly across the sun
beginning to sink behind
tinged with gold.
Sir, deepening into rich glories all wasted in the deepest thought
He said at last
we may leave the question for the instant
what has become of the horse?
During or after the tragedy
if left to himself
go over upon the moor
These people do not wish to hope
Surely that is clear
A working hypothesis
as the Inspector remarked
falls away over yonder
Our supposition is correct we should look a few more
Fifty paces outlined in the value of imagination
one quality upon the supposition
find ourselves justified
He needed to do this. He had to do this. He wanted to do this. Did he want to do this? He'd been preparing for two months and talking about it for a year and half, so he had to., He had wanted to. Now, he was having doubts. What if it didn't work? What if he died in the process? What if it was all pointless and stupid, and he should stop being so reckless with his life? His friends were so supportive. Randy had agreed to give him a batch of his special chocolate peanut butter cookies if he did it, and Randy never made his special chocolate peanut butter cookies. The pretty girl in the apartment down the hall had even agreed to come. The support was amazing, but somehow he still felt like he was making a bad decision. Unfortunately, he couldn't turn back now. It was decided. Jimmy would try to obtain the world record for the most jumps in twenty four hours.
She's a tightrope walker
Living in a glass castle
100 feet off the ground.
A certified illusionist
With a white smile
And steady feet,
She traded human contact
For thin air and thundering applause
She's a lonely girl
Who ran away with the circus
Made her home on the hill
Among lions, tigers, and bears
In a world of shiny costumes
And calculated risks,
She isn't worried.
Got nothing to lose.
“Janine, what the hell?!?”
Katie’s voice was a far cry from the smooth jazz alarm that normally woke the students of Unit #3, 247 Greenbrier Dr.
“Mmmmfff?” Janine pulled her head from the pillow. It was like forcibly removing a boot from slick mud; the cushion had some kind of suction force, holding her sleepy eyes against its rough-yet-oh-so-tempting form. “Whaaaaa?”
Her door was shoved open, bouncing off a pile of laundry that prevented it from banging against the wall. “Janine, what the hell?!?” Katie repeated, slightly quieter this time yet still loud enough to disturb Lorraine in the adjoining room.
“Shut up, Katie! No one cares about your problems!”
Katie turned to the wall, directing her retaliation to the muffled voice. “Everyone cares about my problems! Janine didn’t turn the tap off all the way last night, so we wasted a crapload of money on hydro and there’s water all over the kitchen.”
Janine rolled over and bundled herself in her comforter for protection as she heard banging in the room next door. She could hear Lorraine stumble into the kitchen. She pictured the scene: linoleum tiles stained by new watermarks, the carpet in the adjoining living room splotchy with water on the border between the two surfaces. The toaster and blender and microwave and troupe of other small appliances sitting in puddles on the counter. The sink where she had slept-walked through the dishes chore last night full to the brim, the tap freshly-shut-off by early-bird Katie. Lorraine standing there, socks soaking up water, working herself into a rage.
“JANINE!” The roar came from the kitchen, exactly where Janine had pictured Katie standing.
“What are you damn noisy kids doing down there?!?” Their upstairs neighbour yelled. There was a bang as he stomped on the floor above them.
“Nothing! Go back to sleep, old man!” Katie yelled up at him.
There was a momentary silence. Janine peeked out of the covers towards the door.
Lorraine came through the doorway in all her sleep and stress frazzled majesty. She pushed past Katie and pulled Janine off the bed and onto the floor. She started dragging her by the blanket as Janine whimpered and Katie silently watched. Lorraine pulled her into the kitchen and into the small lake that was their shared space.
“You clean this up. I’m going to get a bagel at Timmy’s before I head in to my lecture.”
“Shut up and clean. I don’t care if you have a lab this morning, you can get the notes from someone else.”
Janine hung her head as Lorraine shuffled into the bathroom to make herself presentable before the day started. Katie went back to her own room to get her books together for lecture. Slowly, Janine stood up and dropped her comforter in the puddle, trying to soak up some of the water so that her roommates could get to the door.
She was walking out of the cleaning closet with her arms full of rags when she heard a mutter from the bathroom. “This place is a damn circus. What a way to wake up.”
The Disney version of Peter Pan that we all hold as a Classic children's tale is comprised of an adventurous boy who leads children off to Neverland, a place without aging.
The original Peter Pan however, depicts Peter as a grown man who comes to children's windows at night and takes them. He brings them to a piece of land he owns where the children are made to live wild in the forest and never get any more mature. Peter tells the children to call him Pan, the Greek god of the wild, and calls the children his Lost Boys. Wendy, Michael and John are really children who try to escape the man, only to be killed, disappear from the Lost Boys and be dismissed as having "grown up".
$300 per Girl; $350 per American Girl
The pre-show room was the only room without the circus music playing , but we could feel it pulsing underneath our skin anyway. There were three leather love seats arranged in a triangle, and vanities lining the walls. We could sit anywhere, beside anyone, but most of us sat in the same place at the same time each day—moving like clockwork, but duller.
I found myself alone most nights, having to be called by my sisters before being lead out in a daze by the Master. And it happened like it always did; we inevitably found ourselves in the show room. I watched the pillowed hair and blanket-faces of my sisters fall into the arms of men like I used to fall into perfume. My shoulders pressed into satin, hair flattening out as feathers slipped away into the thick air.
But one night, something changed. Something was different in a way I couldn't explain. My sisters let themselves be kissed languidly, while I felt urgent as my lips moved.
My eyes were open like obscene buds. Breasts slid out for show, bodies floated in separate moments—moved as if there was only one that mattered. My arms were yanked up and I felt the leather tightening around my wrists. The man flipped me onto my stomach. My unclothed back was pulsing. I looked at my sisters splayed in the same position, lips and eyes closed, traveling into the circus music. I looked over my shoulder and glimpsed the same entranced look on the man’s face. I thrashed as my body followed my mind into consciousness.
I wanted to forget about the incident. But…It was Zambia’s hair brush that kept me remembering. It was the image of her pulling it through tufts of pink. The absence of her smile. It kept me awake in the evenings before the show, before the touching and the breaching of bodies. When my mind was supposed to be drifting, it was sharpening—and I knew that wasn’t supposed to happen.
So without control I began to think about Kat’s mother and how she must exist, and how Kat must look like her. And Kat’s favourite barrette was turquoise, but did she ever confess her favourite colour? Did she have a favourite colour? Did she have a favourite anything? And what about me; did I have a favourite something? And does the Master want us in make-up so that we feel pretty, or so that he feels pretty? Does he put our lipstick on for a reason, or just because?
It went like this every night before the show, before the touching and breaching of my body. But by the time the show ended, I was moving like clockwork again.
Yet, while I walked in empty thought, I found myself staring at Zambia without knowing why. I found this familiar sadness gasping inside of my chest, but I knew not where it came from.
Dear old lady with the crazy eyes,
I know it's not your fault. Lazy eyes are extremely common and caused by factors out of your control. Besides, I kinda like it. It gives your grey, droopy face some character . It doesn't seem to bother you much either. You promenade down the aisles of the bus with such confidence and joie-de-vie, almost daring the crowd of commuters to gaze at your inadequate eyeball. Your other eye seems to dash across the wrinkled business people and moody teens, just waiting to alarm another unsuspecting victim. Keep it up! You daring, spunky sport!
Come one come all
Watch them teeter on the tight rope of sanity
Watch them jump through hoops bound by our expectations
Watch them spurt hair from their chins and private places
Watch them experiment with dry ice and smoke machines
Watch their pupils dilate in response
Watch them paint their faces with powders and dye their hair primary colours
Watch their bodies stretch and distort in mirrors
Watch them roar and bite when we put the flames too close to their faces
Come one, Come all
Watch us teach them dirty words
Watch us exploit their oddities
Watch us whip them into cages
Watch us praise order and blaspheme creativity
Watch us lead them to the teenage wasteland
Thank you to everyone who submitted and helped us create this edition of Spotlight.
Special thanks to Mr. Blauer for all his help and his photography submission.
We hope you all enjoyed it!
Cassia, Delaney, Maggie, Sigrid, and Zoe
Special thanks to Mr. Blauer for all his help and his photography submission.
We hope you all enjoyed it!
Cassia, Delaney, Maggie, Sigrid, and Zoe