Okay. Tonight's the night. I've done this a million times before. So what's different? The lions are locked away tight. They've even been fed recently for their upcoming act. So...it's not that. Could it be the chimpanzees? It wouldn't be the first time they escaped into the rafters or worse. No? Okay. What could it be? I can't put my finger on it but...
Henry comes out from the first ring, his clown makeup half washed away from spritzer. He walks past snapping his fingers in my face. “Hey. You can't be standing around like that. You know how he gets.” Striding right through into makeup he claps his hands. “Chop chop Sid.”
Literally snapped free of my ever lingering thoughts. I shakes my ass past the animal cages into the costume tent. Alone with all of the different outfits. I can't help but peruse. Looking back it was always the fancy outfits they put on for the show that caught my eye. It was the flair, the sheen of the fabric, the flash of the sequins, the dazzle of their makeup, it was everything to me and more. Like a flamingo in pink stripes dancing across the water. These women caught my eye, and I always knew I wanted to be like them.
Forcefully pulling my costume from the rack. I hear the distinctive. Horrifying sound. A sound I've dreaded my entire life here. Oh god no. I've torn my costume. Okay. I can fix this. I can fix this right? Just a needle and some thread. Oh...No. Come on. This day cannot get any worse. Why, Sid, why? Why do you do these things? It's okay. Calm down. Lila always keeps a spare costume just in case. Right?
With purpose and fear...mostly fear in my stride. I tear open Lila's closet. Her special little stash of “oopsie daisies” as she calls it. Sifting through the pile of mostly restored or at least patched costumes I catch a glimpse of the gorgeous rose red sequins, oh that sublime cherry apple unitard, oh the...terrible stitching. Is that patch sewn halfway on? Why is the hole larger then before? Oh no it's ruined. Okay. I can fix this. Tie off the current stitch, snip the thread, finish the patch and...who am I kidding? This looks awful.
It's fine. It's time to take control Sid. Take control. Something else I can use...Something. Like. Yes! I've got it. The dumb freaking old costume I used to wear. I know it'll be a tight fit, but it'll look better then either of these. Where? Where? Oh where would you be? If I were a costume where would I be? Rummaging through anything and everything I can get my grubby little hands on is getting me no where. Okay. It's okay.
Carol my makeup lady pops her head in asking. “Hey. Sid you're needed in makeup in five. Are you not even in costume yet? Oh. Sid. You know how he gets. Move it.” Carol slips away back into the tents into makeup.
As if I don't have enough problems on my hands already? Whatever Carol. The show waits for me. After all I am the star. At least I should be. I'll never be the star if I don't get into costume soon though. Shit. Grabbing hold of my first costume I decide a quick cross stitch will hold long enough for one show. Plus no one will even notice. Right? It'll be fine Sid. Yeah. I'll be fine. It's just the jitters. I feel this every time before a show. Day or night and tonight is no different.
Sliding the costume on. I can't help but notice how the new stitch has tightened the right side. Stretching my arms up, my right arm doesn't go quite as high as normal. This should be fine right? I've done this sort of thing a million times. They were all so impressed when I still went up with a broken finger. Looking at myself in the mirror. All I notice are cracks. The little pieces of dirt stuck between each slender shift between the polished glass. It's bullshit. I can't even look at myself in the mirror in this place without something else taking the limelight.
With a heavy sigh I walk across the area between tents for a beat following Carols warpath to get me into makeup. Mumbling “You know how he gets.” To myself. I enter the tent quiet with a smile.
Sitting down in my chair. Carol is immediately attacking me with a variety of brushes, colors and hair extensions. “Have to look the part.” As they always say. I didn't really mind this part whenever it was Sebastion. Of course, he liked to chat and not stab me with the intent of beautification. Whatever that means. Maybe I can break the silence tonight? Maybe Carol does care in her own way?
Clearing my throat I ask. “You ever have a night where everything feels off?”
“Nothing ever runs smooth here honey. You know that better then the rest of us.”
“That's what I mean though...I can't explain it. But.”
“Stop that thought.” The ringleader says with a hop in his step. Tapping his cane against the ground he smiles shining a golden tooth and rancid breath my way and continues. “Sid. My all time favorite. You aren't having any sort of second thoughts about tonight are you?”
Smiling behind Carol's never ceasing hands and brush work. “No. It's just...”
Taking a step forward he leans in close on his cane. “Good. That's what I want to hear. You not performing tonight. Well, it would be bad for business. Neither of us want that. Now do we?”
“No sir. I just.”
Grabbing hold of my face with one large ringed hand. He shakes me back and forth saying. “No. No additions. That. Is the end of this conversation my dear Sidney. Now, I will see you onstage.” Standing tall with a little sigh. He taps his cane against the ground and twirls it about himself as he walks out humming a little tune. “Five minutes.”
Carol leans in whispering. “Kill me now right? Ha. What a freak. I tell you Sid. I don't know how you put up with being that guys favorite. He doesn't even make the you main attraction like you deserve to be.”
With a deep sigh I look up at the rafters inside the tent. “I know, but when I'm up there. Nothing else matters. I finally get to be free.”
Dabbing my face a few more times, Carol applies the finishing touches saying. “There. Gorgeous as ever. You ready?”
“Ready as I'll ever be.”
Standing from the makeup chair, I glance at myself in the mirror. Smiling from ear to ear, dressed like a ballerina or a acrobatic princess I do a little twirl. The costume looks great even with the simple fix. Going back outside into the waiting area. Henry comes back out of the main tent accompanied by the sound of uproarious laughter.
Wiping cream pie from his face onto his shirt chuckling he bumps into me saying. “Oh sorry, Sid. Hard to see. Ha. Bobbie n' I warmed em right up for ya.” He waddles in his large shoes back into makeup to get cleaned up.
Listening from the tent. I can hear the tension as the ringleader revs the crowd up. His voice echoes over the simple speakers laced through the tents bleachers. “Ladies and...gentlemen. This evening is winding down, but not without a final act. Tonight. I'd like to introduce our new main attraction. A daring act unlike any seen before. With cat like reflexes, the grace of a swan, and the beauty unlike anything ever seen before. I would like to welcome our best. Sid to the stage. She will leave you in pure shock and awe as she tiptoes across this tightrope eighty feet in the air. Not only will she tiptoe ladies and gentlemen. No. She will balance spinning plates in her hands...and one in her mouth while she does.”
The crowd follows his speech with thunderous applause as I walk through the main entrance. The spotlight finds its way to me and any stress or worry washes away. All that's left is the show, and like they say. “The show must go on.” I'd like to think I keep that in mind as I back-flip my way to the ladder. This was always the easiest part, but I can't help but feel I'm a little sloppy when I land. Raising both hands to the sky, I twirl a few times to appease the crowd a little more. It's all about the show. Stopping myself in front of the ladder I lower my hands and begin the climb.
So many gasps already at just the height. This is good. It's higher then we've ever gone before, and I finally get to be the main act. I cannot screw this up. It's happening. Tonight is the night Sid. Tonight, your dreams come true. Up at the top, I take a few calming breathes and examine the tent. Funny how it's kind of hard to hear the crowd from up here with the wind blowing at the top of the tent. No safety net. No safety harness. No, it's just me and the rope up here. Some people have called my act crazy before, but that's why I bring the numbers in.
Still. Something feels strange about today. I can't put my finger on it, but the show must go on. Clapping my hands together I raise them outward away from my body. Here we go. One step at a time. Carefully place each heel into your toes and maintain balance. Halfway out everything goes silent. This is the part that I love. Nothing to distract you. Though my right side still feels a little tight. Doesn't it? Just a little shift for some extra balance. It rips and everyone gasps. I teeter on the rope.
The ringleader calls for anyone. “Someone pull the net.”
But it's too late. I can feel myself plummet the eighty feet down. It wouldn't have been so bad. I probably could have lived if I fell right. My foot caught the rope and spun me around. I knew it was too late when my face hit first. Henry tried to get Bobbie and a few other clowns to get the net, but they came out just in time to see it. Nothing quite like a rip up your side. I landed right on the flag pole impaling myself like a skewer. I only remember the fall. Everything after. Is just part of the show.