By Lorrie Hartshorn
Resolution. That’s what you want, right? An explanation. You want that final breathing-out, the one that comes before you take that shaky breath and start to, y’know, rationalise it all. You want that moment where It Was All Just A Dream! Can’t give you that, son. Might find it on your own if you try hard enough – who knows?
So here’s what we’re going to do: I’m going to tell you a little story. Just float it up out there like them fungal spores – ‘cause sure, it ain’t pretty – and my recommendation for you is that you take one deep breath of your own and hold it while I do. I won’t keep you long, I promise. You don’t want to trust my word, and that’s fair enough, but what’s one little breath unless it’s your last?
OK, let’s keep it sweet. You want to know who I am and where I’ve come from, where we’ve all come from. You all do. Fine. First one’s easy: I’m no one. Can’t remember, never knew – doesn’t matter either way. Next one’s a little tougher. There’s talk but ain’t no official policy on this, you see?
We come rolling into town just like an ordinary show. Hiding in plain sight, boss likes to call it. Striped tents, big old wagons with covered cages on the back of them. Old-timey cars – Alec’s the one who looks after those – with the friendliest-lookin’ ones at the wheels. Good old-fashioned fun is what you ask for, and it’s what you’ll get from us – although whether it’s as fun for you as it is for us is another thing.
The outskirts. That’s always where you’ll find us, kind of a chicken-and-egg thing. We need the space – the actual floor space, you know? Don’t get no big old fields in the middle of cities now, do you? Beaches, promenades – them’s good too, depends where ‘bouts we are. And where there’s space, there’s folk that go wandering, folks that don’t get missed. Easy enough to pick up a stray on the edge of some woods, out in the long grass, maybe down in the warm sand by the pier. Few sweet words, a glad eye – see where I come in? – the promise of a hot meal. We throw the net, you come swimmin’.
We never stay long, you’ll have guessed. I know you can feel that churning underneath you now – you’ll get used to it. Sometimes when you’ve been on the road so long, you get a kind of sea-sickness when it stops. I promise you – yeah, another one – you won’t even feel it soon enough. You make yourself useful, you might still be here when we reach the next place. Maybe that’s what you want, maybe it isn’t. New beginnings aren’t for everyone, I know.
You can go ‘head, breathe it out now. Cough it out of you, son. Feel better for a while. Truth got a habit of stickin’, you know?
Lorrie Hartshorn is a contemporary and literary fiction writer, whose work has been featured in a number of journals, including Compose, Paraxis, 1000 Words, The Pygmy Giant and Anthem. She blogs at circlesunderstreetlights.wordpress.com and is the founder of Halo Literary Magazine, a new journal of short fiction by women. Lorrie can be found on Twitter at @Bigoldsupermoon