Title: Calliope Music

Author: S J Smith

Rating: Teen

Summary: What if Michael ran away and joined a carnival instead of becoming a spy?

Disclaimer: If I had any part of this, I wouldn't be living in Boxtown

When you're a kid, and you're thinking about how much your life sucks, you think, 'Hey, maybe I'll run away and join a circus'. For the most part, it's just a dream, made up of cotton candy fluff and the laughter left over after the clowns spilled out of the ring.

Except, on your part, it's almost true.

Almost, because you didn't join a circus, you joined a traveling carnival instead. Now instead of your dad beating on you, and your mom's sad, wet eyes, and your little brother pressed close to you as a second skin in your bed at night when your dad's on a bender, you hear the hucksters trying to get marks to play a game, lose some money, and the roustabouts running the mechanical rigs, and the calliope music coming from the carousel and the hard rock music coming from the Tilt-A-Whirl ride. And sometimes, there are girls screaming at the haunted house, and coming out clutching their boyfriends so close, and you think, 'I never got a chance to do that,' and the girls associated with a carnival aren't your type, anyway. You wonder how Nate's doing, he's about the age of some of those kids you see, but you don't call, you just put some money in an envelope, and mail it to the neighbor's address, 'cause Mrs. Carson will make sure your mom gets the money and not your dad.

And you think, 'I escaped', but even those words translate to a kind of a failure, because you left your family behind.

The carnival is swinging down south to Miami again soon, the county fair needs rides and games, and you know when you're there, this time you'll contact your family. You don't want to let them down again.