Samantha Lee’s Picture Choice: Both
Title: The Circus
Once, I loved the circus. Once, I thought the circus was the greatest place on earth – better than Disney World and all of Faerie combined. Once, I used to get so excited waiting for the days when my Da would take to see the shows, to visit the grounds, to experience the thrills. My Da was the King of the Winter Court of Faerie, a busy job to say the least, but when I was a little girl, Da used to never miss a chance to sneak us out to the circus whenever he could. His special gift was time-walking, so he could flash us all over the world and through time to experience the circus in any and all of its forms. In Rome, I watched the horse shows and staged battles interspersed with displays of trained animals, jugglers and acrobats. In later centuries, it was gypsies and their travelling caravans and then Astley’s Circle and his trick horses. Cirque du Soleil is, hands down, the greatest thing to come out of the twentieth century, computers included. Clowns, acrobats, and jugglers, fire breathers, knife throwers, and lion tamers, dancing bears, parading elephants and bouncing seals; the circus is a collage of this and that, never the same no matter how many times you go. Always changing, evolving, growing, but always just the same at its core. Even the freak shows and carnivals, I loved it all.
Every birthday, every milestone celebration, every festival or what have you in my honour had a circus theme from the time I was old enough to talk had a circus theme. My room was decorated with the faded posters from my favourite acts. I slept with a stuffed circus elephant and had an entire collection of circus themed dolls. To say I was a fan is a gross understatement.
In particular, I loved the acrobats. I loved watching them as they tumbled and somersaulted and leapt so high up above without any magic at all to help them. There’s a sense of freedom about them, as if even gravity as no claim on them, and a fearlessness I’ve always envied. I’ve known since forever that my life would be one tied up with the chains of responsibility and duty. Freedom is an impossibility for me; it’s not like with mortals where the monarchy is a matter of choice and privilege. Royalty among my kind are a species unto ourselves. We’re like suns, providing light and strength to our people while everything that we are is tied up in that one main focus. I can’t change what I am anymore than the sun can, regardless of what anyone else might think. Acrobats, however, are unfettered. They can be, can do whatever they like, with no bars on what they can accomplish, no limits on how high they might soar. It’s the sort of freedom I’ve secretly yearned for centuries. Life, among other things, would have been so much easier were freedom a choice for me.
I could see my life like the circus. My Court has…had that same feeling to it, that same welcoming tone that said here the freaks and monsters of the world could gather in safety and acceptance, that here absolutely everyone had their place, their part to play, their importance. I used to walk through my Court and feel safe and protected. I used to dance with strangers and play with monsters and feel as though everyone in my Court was simply a friend waiting to be met.
And then Da was killed, my throne was overthrown, and I was imprisoned. My stepmother ruined the circus for me – she tended to ruin everything for me if given enough time – but, next to my father, I mourn my love for the circus the most. During the centuries of imprisonment, I developed coulrophobia (fear of clowns), nyctophobia (fear of the dark), claustrophobia (fear of confined spaces), isolophobia (fear of being alone), formidophobia (fear of scarecrows), agoraphobia (fear of crowds and open spaces), ophidiophobia (fear of snakes), and tonitrophobia (fear of thunder). I also acquired a deep seeded distrust for those of my Court, those who had stood by and done nothing while my world was shattered. I have issues. Lots of issues. Thanks to my stepmother and her minions any enjoyment the circus once brought me has been tainted and warped, dissolved into nothingness likes ashes caught in the wind.
Once, I smiled at the sight of circus tents. Once, I pranced eagerly in place with anticipation and begged and pleaded for my father to take me. Once, I held hold Da’s hand and skipped along beside him, chattering on about everything I hoped to see while he listened to each and every word. Once, I laughed and cheered and excitedly whispered to Da as we’d watch one performance after another, snacking on whatever the fares of the time and place were. Once, I was to be happy.
Once, I loved the circus.
You can read my blog - Calliope's Domain - over at calliopedomain.blogspot.ca