April 6, 2008
By Gillian Greer, Clondalkin, Dublin 22, ZZ

Timidly I tread across the sawdust, dusty, garish light swimming before my lost blue eyes - minicule beneath the bright red canvas of the big top. The gruff, callused hand of the ringmaster grasped my trembling fingers in a theatrical swoop. His booming voice echoed wildly through the giant tent , but I barely heard. Dragged onto the platform, a maddened cheer erupted as the fanfare whirled and danced to it's frenzied rhythm and I rose, the slow mechanical platform pulling me higher and higher. Lights spun and whizzed like fireflies of red and white and gold, endless shapes and colours fusing in the sea of spectators.
Like a thin black sword, the tightrope sliced through the wondrous crush of noise and light - silent, steady, unwavering. The platform stopped. In my violent pink leotard I looked a mad performer - born for the dangerous, the unknown. But stepping on the steadfast rope. I felt a lost and lonely runaway - small and meek in this world of things strange and bizzare. Without a safety net to steady the terrified drumming of my heart I walked, the stolid blackness of the rope my only foothold. Lost blue eyes darted helplessly - an open-mouthed mob gawped, my fellow circus-freaks stared, and the ringmaster, with his unrelenting callused hands leered - a threatening scowl to remind me of the consequences of a single-
Slip. No, not a slip. So high above the crowd, the sawdust would drown in blood. An end, a lost and lonely runaway again united; an end, an end to garish circus lights and the grip of callused hands. The rope held steady - never wavering - my only safety, high above this wild and coloured world. I toed forward, mind wandering - racing. An end. With a single step, I watched the rope, empty and unfeeling, unperturbed as my feet left it's stable grasp and sank through the this and smoky air. Screams melted in the air that sung past my ears. I closed my eyes, blackness steady and impassive as the rope consuming me, plummeting from my high platform. Not falling - flying.

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