Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Writing Challenge - Circus of the Illiterate

My mother always hated the circus and I never knew why. As a child, I would beg and beg to be allowed to go see the wonder that all my classmates were able to go to. But all she ever did was scowl and tell me that the circus was filled with hobos and illiterate freaks.

Because it was something denied to me as a child, I had always been fascinated by the circus. When I was 18, I realized that school wasn't something I was interested in continuing. The circus happened to be in town when I came to this conclusion so I had the great idea to run away with the circus.

I remember been so excited and nervous as I walked into the clearing where the circus had set up. I asked around and found myself in a tent with the ring master. He was an older man with graying hair and a long moustache that curled at the end.

"How old are you, girl?" he asked, as he looked me up and down. I told him I was 18 and gave him my driver's license as proof. He looked at for a long moment and then handed it back to me.

"It seems legit," he said as he rustled around his desk for some papers, "Now what skills can you offer my poor circus?"

I blinked trying to gather my thoughts because I hadn't actually thought the circus would take me. "I can sing and I'm a fairly good dancer," I said, quickly, "I'm a fast learner and I'm willing to do anything to become a part of the circus."

He looked up from his papers, a slow grin forming on his face. "Well then, Miss. I think we can find a spot for you."

I was whisked from the tent and taken to the clowns. They were, for the most part, a group of dirty, old men. They didn't seem to be able to read or write, but they were very good at falling down for laughs. As a young girl, it was a bit uncomfortable being around them. I think the ringmaster had meant to run me off but my resolve to make in the circus was still very strong.

Over the years, I learned nearly all the jobs in the circus. Much of the shine wore off over time, but I didn't know what else I could do. The work was interesting and for once in my life, I was the smartest person around as I had just about finished high school when I had joined. Most of the circus performers had joined the circus early, even being born into the life. So most did not have much of an education, many of the performers unable to read their names that were up in lights.

It wasn't the best career choice but it's not one that I regret. To this day, I live at the circus now as the ringmaster. The circus is a different kind of school and the roar of the crowds are the only incentive that the performers need.


For the IndieInk Writing Challenge this week, Lilu challenged me with "Circus of the illiterate" and I challenged Carrie with "Do what you can to survive".

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