She Keeps the Crumbs This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

The bearded lady’s, Mildred’s trailer is farther from the other Carnies’ campsites. She says the constant sound of cackling drunken idiots throughout the night is not her idea of a good time. “Keller, night should be used for sleep. Truly, the only time for merriment is in our dreams” She tells me.
At the carnival, I’m one of the contortionists, which is easy to tell being I’m the size of a tooth pick. Though during this fall weather it’s harder to tell after I’ve hidden myself under layers of clothes, only my nose and finger tips feel the wrath of the bitter air as I walk through the valley everyone has parked at. I’m headed towards Mildred’s home, for she needs my assistance.
“Ah, Keller, it’s nice of you to stop by” Teeming with Sarcasm, Mildred walked out her trailer with her ungainly arms crossed to show her loathing. She is dressed for the cold as well, except there’s nothing protecting her face. All she needs is her unruly dark curly beard that hangs off her chest and lies upon her round belly, as it wafts in the breeze.
Her attitude doesn’t bother me, “You know I didn’t have to come.”
With her nose in the air, Mildred grunted something nasty and went back inside, hinting me to follow. I do, unenthusiastically and groan to myself, feeling the regret of my once thoughtful need to help another. Her home smells of honey, but is jammed backed with so much junk you’d assume it’d smell like old shoes. But I can’t really complain. It’s quite warm in here.
“My wedding ring is under the stove, be a dear and get it for me.” Sounding sweeter, she explains and points to her stove, which is maybe two inches off the ground.
I nod, inspecting the space, thinking if I really can get in there contortionist or not. Still, I go down on my knees, take off the heavy jacket and peek under the stove until I see the golden glint off the ring apart from all the darkness.
To fill the silence, I raise “I’m guessing Rudge is working.”
Rudge is the strongest man alive and her husband, nice guy, horrible luck.
“Yes, he’s trying to see if he can juggle the elephants.”
My head perks up, “Seriously?”
“I told him not too and just juggle the weights.”
Chuckling over the thought, I ask “Can he even juggle?”
“No.”
Laughing more, I first slide my fingers under. As my arm reaches farther underneath the stove; the more reminiscent I feel towards ‘Playdoh,’ by the way my arm looks and feels. It’s not painful, just odd. It makes me feel like a marshmallow with my dwindling body mass that seems to rise back up… like I said, it’s an odd sensation.
I touch the chilled ring, grab it and slither out, raising the ring for her to take. She does with a smile and instantly puts it back on her finger, admiring it. “Oh thank you.”
Welcoming her, I only smile back and stand. “Well, I’ve done my job.”
“Oh wait!” She gushes and grabs my arm “Let me reward you.”
And with her beard, it ascends from her chest and goes to the fridge, opening it. It seemed to make the shape of a hand, taking a piece of cake from a shelf and places it on the table.
“Stay and eat with me,” She requests as her beard closes the fridge and falls back to its home.
“Alright,” I say, giddy for some well deserved cake. We both sit down and dig in with some forks in a cup on the middle of the table; all different kinds, shapes and colors, but I don’t question it.
After my first bite, I realize something “Why didn’t you use your beard to get the ring?”
That seemed to offend her because she answers snobbishly “How can you expect a lady to get down on her knees like that, on such filthy floor.”
But you let me?
“Besides,” she says “I need to keep my beard clean.”
For a moment when she doesn’t notice, I watch her eat her cake and see large crumbs tumble into her beard. Squinting, to make sure what I was seeing was right, I notice a treasure of candies and other colored crumbs buried into her beard.
She finally catches me, “What?”
“Uh, nothing” I spout awkwardly, embarrassed that I was caught “It’s just. Uh you have something in your beard.”
Nonchalantly, Mildred shrugs, “Oh that? I keep the crumbs for later.”
Even though I never noticed, Mildred has finished her cake. And as she whipped her mouth, her beard became animated, taking the plate. It tipped the plate over, dropping the remaining crumbs inside itself…
I never want to grow a beard.





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