I am invisible, melting into backgrounds like a chameleon. I watched as people I’d known my entire life milled through the fairgrounds around me. I knew each of them by name, but it seemed the only person who saw me was my sister. Even our father who, eight years later, was still mourning our mother. Our mother who always saw me.
I sat on the blue drooping fairgrounds bench with Luna as she shoveled spoonfuls of Italian ice into her mouth and swung her legs back and forth, kicking up little clouds of dust around her white patent leather shoes. She’d begged me to bring her to the circus. None of the posters had said how long it might be in town, so every day could possibly have been the last, which meant every day Luna didn’t go to the circus ended in tears.
She wasn’t rotten. But with only me and our father at home, there was little time for anything that wasn’t a necessity.
“Julian,” said Luna, syrup dripping down her cheek and onto last month’s Easter dress. “Can we buy a souvenir program?”
I fished around in my pocket and came up with a few coins I’d found on our father’s nightstand. “Sure.”
Once she was through with her Italian ice, we lined up for the main attraction.
I’d never liked circuses or zoos. Maybe I was too old by the time I went to my first one, but seeing exotic animals pent up in cages, outside of their natural element, left an ache in me that sunk all the way down to my toes.
Girls in gold sequined leotards pranced through the ring, balancing all kinds of objects on their heads or the tips of their fingers, and even riding elephants whose every step shook the ground below us as drums rolled and symbols crashed. They all looked different, of course, with their various body shapes and colors of hair, but their sequined outfits unified them like bridesmaids in a church.
The ringleader in his riding pants and suede-fringed jacket unfurled his whip and said, “I’ll be calling on my assistant, Magdalena, to help me with this portion of the show!”
That was when I saw her. She broke through the curtain of darkness and into the pool of light. A tall girl with white hair, a wooden leg, and lips so bright they could wake a dead man. She was a shock of lightening in the dead of winter.
My latest short for hanginggardenstories! And totally different from my usual fare.
Up in my room I flipped open my laptop and waited for Google to load. I punched in one word. Like taking a punch to the gut. Schizophrenia.
A medical condition affecting the victim’s perceptions of reality.
Molly’d always been—well, the smart one, the one with the brains. You know that old joke, where people say, “Come on, it’s not rocket science”? When it was, Molly took it on. She dropped high school science her sophomore year and enrolled at community college. I remember last year, when I almost flunked physics, she tried to explain string theory to me—electrons and quarks, fastballs spinning on their tracks. For a second I’d almost get it, like a baseball that just grazed my glove, and then that missed fastball would fly quick as a comet light years over my head.
Molly ducked if a ball came within ten feet of her. But she caught those fastballs every time.
So if the pitcher can’t see the ball? If the batter doesn’t know it’s there? If the ump calls a foul because a voice told him something happened that never did? I made a fist around a ball I didn’t have. Then I scrolled farther down the screen.
Thought to be heritable. Symptoms include elaborate hallucinations and visual and audio delusions. I hadn’t done this search since Christmas. But I remembered every word.
Rules, rules, rules! ~ Rachel Troy
Of all people, our teen Reader, Rachel Troy, supports a pretty old-school approach to writing. But she still loves Jackson Pollock. Find out more.
Naturally, when I read George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language”, I was thrilled to see a numbered list of writing rules:
(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.
(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
Rules, rules, rules! ~ Rachel Troy
Of all people, our teen Reader, Rachel Troy, supports a pretty old-school approach to writing. But she still loves Jackson Pollock. FInd out more.