Abandoned but not alone
Beaten, but past the point of no return is the sea
Finding the way to the sea
Torrid, filthy, terrifying, exhilarating
The Greek chorus telling the tale
Not thriving but surviving
This whole night’s been bad and you’re just a part of it
Such fearsome want
Spinning thoughts hurled out in epithets
Spray painted by a revolutionary
Too cool to translate
When even they don’t recall the meaning
They’re so far down; they’re not even on the map
Drawn together inexorably
Follies of boys
Fighting for ten square feet of ground
It’s still on
Who wants to hide
The future is ours
What about me, baby
Pushing on numbly
I’m having a good time, let’s go
You never know what you’re gonna run into out there
She became mindful all at once in his arms. Drawing in a breath, maybe the first real one in hours, she let him guide her around the creaky, sticky dance floor. His voice rumbled through her as he hummed along softly. The sax was done wailing for now and the piano and bass talked to each other. Her hand slid behind his neck as his found rest at her lower back. Pulled closer, her head found rest against his chest.
She wanted to look at him but wouldn’t break this embrace. This dance was their first touch. They had talked, laughed, shared side by side but somewhere they picked up tendrils of something more. Picking at threads of possibility, tonight was a beginning.
Thank God jazz songs can go on forever, she thought. Their conversation at dinner had been rollicking fun. Their evening walk to this club felt sparkling. But this dance was … perfect.
She was disheveled, but when he looked at her she felt like a goddess. He looked like the most delicious sin. Any other thought, past or future, was peripheral to this moment. No matter what, she would carry this memory as a precious gem forever. This night, this dance, this moment.
She was smart enough to understand this was the most she could hope for. Whether they parted tomorrow or rode off into the night as partners for the rest of their lives, moments of perfection are fleeting. They just might venture to physical heights previously unknown to them. But those moments are not meant to be sustained either.
Quelling all busy thoughts, she breathed him in again. He smelled of scotch, bar smoke, and soap. She tested a patch of skin at his neck with her tongue. Salty and rough. He squeezed her hip and she finally pulled back to look at him. They stood staring for what felt like days. Reading eyes. Clenching fingers. Music slowing to a fade for them. Without a word, they moved together.
She adjusted the strap of her bodysuit. The sequins were digging into her shoulder again. She glanced down at her cleavage, making sure everything was securely tucked away into the costume with just enough of the creamy swell rising above to be enticing but not indecent. Men would inevitably take notice but children of all ages would be mesmerized as she juggled flaming batons atop the high-wire.
As she sat in front of the mirror, she looked at her overly made-up face, resplendent with hues only found in nature on the tails of peacocks. She slicked on one more dab of lip gloss and smiled; teeth were all clear. She ran her fingers down her long, dark ponytail, thankful for the return of her natural color. He had always hated her dark hair so she had bleached it for years. Funny how the light hair made her world seem dark and her dark hair was comforting and made her feel light as a feather. That feeling helped when she had to concentrate on her balance on a thin wire over 100 feet above the ground.
She checked her smartphone for the dozenth time in less than an hour. No message yet. How much longer would she have to wait? The friend that worked for the lawyer was to let her know as soon as the sentencing was handed down. It should have been over long ago. She looked at herself in the mirror again carefully. The makeup covered the smudges under her eyes that betrayed her sleepless nights. As shaky as she felt though, once she climbed that ladder and lit the batons, her nerves were always steady. She woke with a purpose each day: to hear the gasps and claps that let her know her efforts were appreciated. It was something that gave her joy.
BUZZZZ! She jumped involuntarily and checked her phone. “Jury and judge coming back now,” she read.
She closed her eyes, tried to take a deep breath but it got stuck somewhere in her throat. Her mind took her against her will, much as he had done in that cabin, to dark places in the past. Why hadn’t she fought harder or tried to get away earlier? She mentally berated herself again for blaming the wrong person. HE was the bastard who had done this to several other women before her. He had pushed her into believing all sorts of lies including how she was nothing and could never escape. But she had.
Once she had gotten away, she realized she had acquired a set of balls that he seemed to have no use for; in her mind, only an impotent eunuch preys upon those he sees as weak. She sort of laughed to herself and thought, I took his balls as he wasn’t using them, the coward. She had shown bravery as she recounted to police all the details she could recall. She had gone back to the circus as soon as her body had healed, intuitively knowing it would also help heal her soul as well.
She stood and walked to a small flap in the tent. She peeked through and saw the man with the tigers, using a whip to guide them to their spots in the cage. Like a carefully choreographed dance, the powerful yet seemingly languid beasts circled the man and took their spots atop some stacked chairs. So much strength constrained by some bars of a cage! Hopefully soon he too would be held at bay in a cage.
She glanced into the stands and noticed a group of children. A school group, by the looks of the matching bright red shirts they all wore. They were laughing. She craned her neck and saw the object of their mirth: three clowns were chasing and tripping each other in the next ring. She looked back at the children. Their faces were almost glowing. She couldn’t remember feeling a joy that could and should be taken for granted. If not for her friends, she knew she wouldn’t even have the hope of finding that joy again. But as she shed her pain and shared her trials, she connected with others and found everyone had their own tales of woe.
One of the clowns’ wives died last year after a three-year battle with cancer. An animal trainer just found out last week that her husband was leaving her for a bank teller back home. A backup dancer who needs to have knee surgery is worried about insurance. The couple who get shot out of matching cannons together just suffered a miscarriage. So trite but true, friends sharing makes burdens lighter.
Buzzz… Buzzz… She had been daydreaming about her first job as a high-wire act for the circus when her phone buzzed and vibrated on the table.
“Guilty. 99 Years. No parole. Breathe!”
Whoooosh! She could finally release the breath she had been holding. She felt so light she thought maybe she’d float to the very top of the Big Top. Two Years. Over 2,000 miles. Lots of trips up the ladder. Lots of balancing on a thin high-wire.
I wish to heartily thank my supporters and friends and followers! I have had words stuck in my head all my life and it’s taken me to my middle age to write them down.
I’m working on a book of poetry to hopefully be published this year; up to six months ago, I would laughed at that idea.
I am particularly proud of the connections I’ve made with other writers. We should revel and share in our journeys and support each other as we have chosen similar modes of expression.
“We are cups, constantly and quietly being filled. The trick is knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful pour out.” – Ray Bradbury