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St. Lucia Circus

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I am five years old and on vacation at a resort in St. Lucia, one of those resorts where everything—even the natural flora—feels overly lush and luxurious. My sit-on-the-beach-and-read parents, faced with 38 pounds of five-year-old energy, do what any parents would do: dump it in day camp. I think day camp is just about the greatest idea since stuffed animals. Why would I want to sit on a horrid white beach when I could go trampolining and go-cart racing and swimming all day?

Day camp does not disappoint. My group is called the Snoopies and we figure out on the first day that we will be putting on a super special CIRCUS that night for all the parents! First, we all have to choose our roles. Do I want to be a trapeze artist and wear the beautiful sequined leotard, or perhaps a ballerina with a marvelous frilly tutu? Of course not. I want to be a tiger. So while the other girls are led off to the pink, softly lit changing room, the boys and I are led to the dark back room. A lingering smell of mold and chlorine hangs about the room as we walk past the crumbling plaster and dripping pipes to a large, mildewed crate. The crate is opened and I promptly forget the eeriness of the room around me as out of the crate come tiger outfits! I throw on a musty, slightly pilled tiger costume and then sit squirmingly still for my tiger face paint. All around me I see dirty, rambunctious five-year-olds morphing into ferocious jungle beasts.

Costumes on and make-up completed, the other tigers and I are marched backstage to our counselor, who is very tall and very old (at least twenty). He has a big, booming voice, the kind of voice you suppose God must have, and he bellows out, “Do you tigers want to jump through a flaming hoop?!”

Is he kidding? Of course I want to jump through a flaming hoop, and I open my mouth to say. I am about to shout out a lisping yes (I lost both of my front teeth last week) when I realize that the other tigers are deathly silent. Abashed, too shy to say what I want, I too fall silent and cast my eyes down. My previously-unrealized lifelong dream of jumping through a burning hoop has been dashed. Suddenly, a clear, ringing voice shouts out “Yes! Yes, we want to jump through the hoop!”

I turn and see a small, brown-haired boy practically leaping into the air with excitement and I think he is the most wonderful, beautiful thing I have ever seen. I want to kiss him right on his five-year-old chocolate-stained mouth. As we proceed to the stage, I take his hand and we run towards the flickering, glistening inferno of our burning hoop.


"This will certify that the above work is completely original. Maggie Girard."





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