Martin always wondered how they did it— no strings, a flimsy net, and in those gaudy outfits. He could see himself upside down, swinging through the air, trying to catch the pretty lady from the other swing, missing her arms because a piece of sequins is irritating his side or because he can see straight down her top all the way to her stomach.
“What’s your favorite act Martin?” His mom disturbed his thoughts with this question and with her elbow in his ribcage. She had asked him that question at every circus since he was a boy. He didn’t understand why she always asked since he always answered the same. “The trapeze.”
“It looks like fun, don’t it? But it’s too dangerous for me. I like the clowns. You’d make a good clown, Martin.”
“A clown. Gee Mom, thanks.”
“Well you always make me laugh. Besides, I wouldn’t want you swinging around up there. It’d wear me out.”
“You just asked me which was my favorite. I haven’t gotten any job offers from the Ringmaster.”
“Well Martin, I’m just using my imagination.”
“You imagine me as a clown?”
“Well maybe one of them sad mopey clowns when you act like this. Go get us some coke. Here’s two dollars. We can share.”
“It’s gonna start soon.”
“Don’t worry, the trapeze won’t be on for a while.”
Martin climbed the section where he and his mom were seated and turned around when he reached the top. He hated this spot—nothing but steep stairs and scattered popcorn to break a fall. Some trapeze man I’d make, afraid of heights, he thought. He scanned the seats to get his bearings in case the lights were out when he got back. Then he saw them. Three rows behind his mom sat John and April Carter.
John looked bored. He slouched in his seat and stared at the floor. April scowled as she searched the arena. He guessed the Carter twins had been forced to come with their parents, who probably thought they were being nice when they got tickets for the whole family. The lights flickered to signal that the show was going to start soon, so Martin counted the steps down to his mother’s row. When he looked up again, he caught April’s eye. She turned quickly and sank into her seat. The lights dimmed, and he was glad no one could see the heat rise in his face as he continued toward the concession stand.