the flying trapeze
By Baker Street
The Circus. The Big Top. It was show night, but then, every night was show night. The stands were filled with expectant people as the one act followed the other. First it was time for some light entertainment to build up the atmosphere for the evening. The clowns came into the arena and made themselves, and each other, ridiculous. The crowd laughed, and laughed anew at each new antic of the comedy men.
After they had done their work, the clowns departed from the arena, and the sword-swallower entered. First he juggled a few batons ablaze with fire. To finish his act, he swallowed a flaming sword. The crowd was greatly impressed by this feat, and he received a generous applause. Next, the elephants came on and did their act, accompanied by their trainer. They did several tricks that were quite clever for such large animals. When they had finished their performance, they left the arena with much fanfare and trumpet blowing. And so the one act followed the other through the night, until it was time for the finale, and the highlight of the evening; the flying trapeze.
The trapeze artists were a group of three called 'the flying trio'. They were two young men, and a young woman. They swung on the bars high in the roof of the big tent, and flew from bar to bar through the air. They were alternately grabbed by the hands of their co-artist, and swung away again, flying through the air, and being caught by the person on the opposing bar. The center of attention was the girl on the flying trapeze, and whenever the spotlight fell on her as she flew through the air, the crowd would murmur in amazement.
In the darkness on the edge of the arena, one of the clowns would stand each night and watch her perform. He would stand transfixed in wonder as the girl flew and somersaulted through the air high above in the tent. He loved the girl on the flying trapeze. He knew her well, but doubted whether she even knew that he existed. Still, night after night, he would stand in the darkness and watch her soaring high above.
The circus traveled from town to town through the country. As the nights followed one another, they did the same acts in the same routine, to different audiences. The highlight of each show was undoubtedly, the flying trapeze. At the end of every evening, the three trapeze artists would soar from bar to bar, high above in the Big Top. Below in the darkness, the clown stood watching the beautiful girl on the flying trapeze.
On one particular night they were performing to a large crowd outside a big city. The acts followed one another through the evening as usual. First came the clowns, followed by the sword-swallower, and then the elephants. The acts followed on each other as the night progressed, until it was time for the grand finale; the flying trapeze.
The three young trapeze artists soared through the air, from bar to bar, and from grasping hand to grasping hand. They flew through the air, simultaneously doing acrobatics, and reached for the secure grip of their partners hands on the other end. They had complete trust in one another. Gracefully their bodies arced and soared through the air high above in the big tent.
On the edge of the arena in the darkness, the clown stood watching as always, struck with awe at the beauty of the girl flying through the air high above him. And she flew like a gentle bird, as she swung from the hand of her one partner, to the other. Sometimes it seemed that she floated through the air like a butterfly. She soared confidently high above, and the crowd murmured with approval.
But in a fateful instant, her hand slipped, and she lost her grip on her partner's hand. She fell, and plummeted like a stone from the sky. Her body fell hard on the sawdust-covered surface of the arena, and small puff of dust went up on the impact. Then she lay motionless.
The clown was the first to reach her, and he knelt down, taking her body in his arms.
She said only, "I¦I¦, as she looked into the clowns eyes, and then she lay quiet.
The circus physician arrived and took charge the situation. The clown moved away. The crowd was in turmoil, and there was quite a commotion. After a while the doctor said, "She is dead. The clown walked quietly away into the darkness through the milling crowd.
He thought of the last words she had tried to speak to him as she died. He imagined for an instant that she was trying to say, 'I love you'.
(Picture My Own.)