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“So kid, what do you wanna be when you grow up?” A man once asked me.
“I want to dazzle people. I want to start a circus.” I kicked my mary jane shoes into the dirt.
“Nice dream kid, it’s too bad it probably won’t happen.”
But I proved that man wrong. My parents always believe in me though. They were visionaries themselves, Papa is an inventor, and Mama writes stories. I wrote my story. Typically, a girl can’t be a ringmaster. But I’ve worked too hard to earn the title of a ringmaster.
When I was 20 years old, I worked day and night to make some money. I value making money on my own. But eventually, I had to loan some money from the bank. Money was tough, but I finally bought a lot for the big tent. The tent's red and white striped. With shining bright lights.
“I guess I just have to find my acts now.” And thus why I traveled to many places in America. There were some places I visited for “freaks”.
A tall man, the shortest woman alive, a strong man, two female acrobats, and a few elephants. That was all I had.
“Ma’am, I hate to tell you this… I think we’re going to need a lot more.” One of the acrobats, Amelia piped up.
“Hey, I’ve looked all over America for different types of people. You are all unique. You would wow anyone. I mean look, you’re an acrobat! You jump from the highest of places! People will gasp and say oooh and ahhh. People will love you!” I smiled at Amelia.
“I think I can help you get some more people.” The shortest woman, Penny said.
“Thank you, Penelope.” I looked out of the tent. I could picture all the people, standing in line, waiting to get into my circus. My pride and joy.
“I said to practice. Don’t be lazy. We have a show to put on. Places!” I shouted, clenching my fists. I’m glad I’m not a violent person, otherwise, I would have strangled my show family. And I didn’t realize it when, but my carnies would be my family. Our first show was coming up, and I’m glad they started to put more effort into practicing. Practice makes perfect after all.
Costumes were the toughest to buy since everyone was different, I needed to highlight their acts. I couldn’t make these myself because I have no sewing talents, in fact, I’m not that talented of a person. I can whistle and snap and that’s about it. But this is why I decided to take people from out of the ordinary, and put them all in one place. Because they made up for what I lacked in talents. I was jealous. But I did learn one useful skill. But I’ll get into that later. It was our opening day, and I felt like I was going to throw up.
“Miss Sarah, are you okay?” Amelia asked. Viola, the other acrobat stood next to Amelia.
“I have nerves, nothing to worry about for me. I’m the ringmaster after all!” I bit my lip. If I have not faked my confidence then, why would I even be the ringmaster? Ringmasters control the show. But it never was about me. I realized, that this was for everyone who works for my circus. It’s their spotlight, not mine.
I could smell the peanuts, see the red striped bags. And before I knew it, the lights blinded me. But I smiled.
“Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to our show! My name is Sarah. Sit back and enjoy.” I head off the stage, as the show starts. This was it. Our big moment. But it wasn’t as easy as I thought. Many loved our show, but some of the critics hated it. I could see their reviews in the newspapers. I’ve failed. I haven’t dazzled anyone. I was a joke.
“Sarah, Don’t let the first show disappoint you. The crowds are full, who cares what a bunch of lousy critics care about.” The tall man, Jack said.
“They didn’t like my show Jack. What am I supposed to do? Change the show?”
“Well, I think we should end the show with a bang. Maybe we should add another act? The papers said they want someone with a voice. Someone who can sing.”
“I can’t sing, Jack.” I looked up at his long blonde hair and his gentle brown eyes. He was handsome. But I couldn’t be with a freak.
“I didn’t mean you. I know an old flame. Maybe she can help ya show out. Don’t give up, Sarah.”
I stood up, “Jack, I don’t think they would come back to our show. It’s useless.” I met his brown eyes, they stood out against his pale skin.
“And I said not ta give up. I’m going to give her a visit. You’d be surprised by her voice.” He ran out of the tent.
I started to weep. My goal was to make something out of nothing, I wanted to show that I could have the best circus in the country. Beat P.T. Barnum. But I guess that wasn’t going to happen. I’ve become weak. I wasn’t that strong to begin with, just someone with a dream. A dream that I couldn’t make happen. This was the end of the show.
“Jack, you can’t change anything. The circus can’t happen anymore. You can live here in the tent, but no more shows.” I glanced at a woman with black hair and caramel skin. She’s very pretty. “There isn’t anything here for you ma’am, I’d leave if I were you.”
“I’m offended, I’m here to stay, and that show is not going anywhere. You’ve got something good going here, you’ve given unique people who you know very well wouldn’t be accepted by normal people like me and you. You’re a good person, and only after one show you decide to give up?”
“This is my circus, lady! You don’t run it.” I shouted. I don’t trust this woman.
“I’m saving your show.” Her black long hair moved as she walked.
“You know, you’re pathetic Sarah.” Jack walked out of the tent.
Jack was right. I was pathetic. But that was before I realized that the show must always go on. It’s going to be better, brighter, and dazzling. I was just having a breakdown. I’m not weak, I’m still strong with my dream to be that ringmaster, and that’s all that matters.
“I’d like to apologize, I realized that this is about all of you, you’re the stars.” I looked down at my shoes. I’m not good with apologies. “It’s my fault that we haven’t done a good job at being entertainers, and now I’m going to fix that. More animals! Bears, tigers. And at the end, I think we should all end with a spectacular closing scene. We also have a singer here, although I haven’t heard you sing yet.”
“You can hear me when I’m put in your show.” The girl smirked. “I’m Elise. By the way.”
Jack inched towards me.
“I’m sorry about her. I thought she changed. But I guess I was wrong.”
“It’s okay, how were you supposed to know?” I turned towards Jack and kissed him on the lips. My head was spinning, there’s a fire on our lips. I felt the room quiet.
“Jack what are you doing with her?” Elise shouted angrily.
I pulled away. This was show business, it’s just what you do. I’ve done my job. I walked outside to visit our animals, and I was petting the elephants. They were gentle creatures, and I wouldn’t see why anyone would abuse them. I made sure of that when I hired people to take care of them.
“That was unexpected.” Amelia walked and stood right next to me, putting a hand on my shoulder. “Actually, I think you have managed to make Elise very angry and a little jealous of you, Sarah. I am glad we are going to have another show.”
“I’m cruel for what I just did.” I turned away from her, she took her hand off of my shoulder.
“Pft, Elise let Jack go. I am not sure if they were just lovers or maybe even married, but you are a free woman and you can do whatever you want to. Well, besides voting. Now this show is going to be awesome, and you don’t need Elsie to help, but it will be nice to please that crowd a little more. Elise can leave and we will find someone else. I’ve got to practice my act. Being an acrobat can be tough. Practice makes perfect.” Amelia waved before heading off into the big tent. I looked at the elephants again.
Once again it was showtime. I gave my speech, and this time I added many new things. I tamed a lion. Those brown eyes and big maned hair were menacing, but hey I’m not dead! I’m alive. But people in the crowd cheered as all the acts went on, then finally Elsie started to sing. And she has a great voice. People went deathly silent. As soon as her melodic voice hit the last note, everyone was loud. All you heard was whistles and clapping. Elsie bowed and looked back at me. She even smiled at me. That smile could be fake, but I guess I would never know. Elsie was leaving to go back home anyway. Or maybe she could stay. That’s up to her though.
A few days after the show, critics were raving about Elsie. If only the man I met when I was a little girl would have been here to see the show. He was quite old with balding hair, and wrinkles all over his face. I untied my light brown hair out of it’s neatly done bun thanks to Penny. I looked at my green-blue eyes in the mirror, with my long lashes, and chopped off my long hair. I don’t like long hair in the summer anyway, it’s way too hot. And eventually, I retired. But I still lived with my carnies, and even my parents came to visit once in a while. I take care of the animals, and I make sure that I do a good job.