I loved her first, you know, she was the whole reason I joined it, the circus that is. It was almost two years ago that I first saw them perform. I had just lost my job, I worked for a magazine company that published a bunch of avant-garde stuff and it just ran itself into the ground, so I decided to take a stroll about town. There was a bit of a crowd gathering down by an old empty field, so I had thought to take a look and see what the fuss was about. When I got closer I saw a huge colorful tent and random people in masks running about and keeping everyone in line entertained while they waited. I knew I should've been saving my money, but I was sad and I really just needed it.
So I joined the line and silently purchased a ticket, from an older woman, at the booth outside the tent. Then I made my way inside and got a decent seat towards the front. I really enjoyed it all, the laughter, music, and cheers from the crowd were all familiar and welcoming. (I would sometimes perform tricks and play a mime on weekends for tips to help ends meet) But it wasn't until she came out that I really focused on any of the performances.
"Now from darkest Peru Raymondo and Fortuna!" the Ringmaster called from a mic behind a curtain somewhere. Out rushed a man in billowing robes with a mask that looked like crushed tinfoil, and then came a young girl in tights with a full black and white mask. They juggled random objects that assistants brought out, doubling their speed with each new item. She was so quick and slender and…well…beautiful. Now before you go screaming pedophile and such, I might remind you I was seventeen at the time and only three years older than her, she turned fourteen later that year. They ended the act by juggling some bananas and being chased by someone in a monkey suit. I expected her to reappear in one of the next acts, but she didn't show up again.
After the show ended I went back to the ticket booth and loitered. After about thirty minutes the ringmaster passed by and asked me if I needed anything. I honestly didn't know what to say at first and I stumbled over my words introducing myself, and clumsily shook his hand. What was I to say, "Hello, I've been standing about here for half an hour on the off chance I might meet the young lady you juggled with and tell her I think she's beautiful!" ? Instead I somehow ended up telling him about my weekend acts and how I'd just lost my job. Mr. Campbell was very kind from the start he asked if I'd like to join them and auditioned me on the spot. I passed and joined the rest of the performers.
A few days after that I finally spoke to Helena, actually she spoke to me. I was practicing my contact juggling, making four glass spheres dance about my palm, I became so absorbed in it I didn't notice Helena sneak up behind me and watch until she let out a whistle of approval. I ended up dropping them all and having to scramble after them. It made her laugh, and that made me happy. We got introductions out of the way and we just started talking. We would talk for hours about everything and nothing. I told her about school and the magazine I had worked for, the town I grew up in, etc. and she told me funny stories about the crew, of her drawings, and about how she wanted to move in with her aunt.
Helena hated and loved the circus, she would never admit it to herself she loved it no matter how obvious it was, but she would always talk down on it. I understood that she wanted security and all, but I couldn't begin to understand how she could speak so badly about the place. A year went by and I grew close to her and her family. Mr. and Mrs. Campbell were both fond of me from that start and took me under their wings. Helena and I became best friends, we were the youngest in the circus and that set us apart from the others a bit. We would just talk, practice, joke, and eat lunches and stuff. It's not like we had many adventures, except that one involving the mob and the cow, but that's another story. I always wanted to tell her how I felt but I wanted to wait until she was at least sixteen so it would be legal and all. Then everything went wrong.
One night she and her mom had gotten into a particularly bad row, I had been joking with Mrs. Campbell about how Helena just needed some stern discipline and then she just…collapsed. We hurried and got her onto a cot and called an ambulance. She was put in the hospital, which but a strain on their finances, and Helena went to stay with her Nan, who's town we were luckily stopped in. I couldn't see her at all for weeks. I wanted to do something, anything, tell her it would be okay and hold her and tell her how much I loved her, but I couldn't. I just couldn't drop something like that on her while her mom might be dying.
Then Mrs. Campbell had her surgery and got better, things were beginning to look better. We were back on the road and Helena was finally on good terms with her parents. We were all perfectly content and this was the best time for me to confess to her!
Then he showed up…Valen McKinnon. He just shows up asking for a job and "bumps" into her and suddenly they're all close and cuddly and just together! He can barely even juggle! He's older than me for Christ's sake! Isn't that a bit more pedoish! But I am her best friend nothing more to her, I'm supposed to support her and all.
…How does a mime say, "I love you."?