I’m getting ready for a week of vacation in Maine–good friends, pretty country, lots of lobster–and plenty of locavoracious topics to discuss when I return!
While I’m away, though, I thought I’d publish this short story in six installments. It’s one of my favorites, and one that’s been rejected by every editor who’s ever read it. (And believe me–finding the kind of venue that might accept this story in the first place isn’t an easy task!) I’ll keep at it, though, and in the mean time…enjoy.
(Or not, but don’t tell me if you don’t. I’m fond of Rosemary and Jack and wish them well in their own little world!)
It wasn’t often a real circus rolled into a town as small as Bushell, Georgia, especially on a dull Thursday afternoon of the hottest week of the dustiest summer anybody could remember. It wasn’t something to miss, even if Rosemary Day was blind and her Aunt Fanny said it was all perfect foolishness and come away from the window at once, child.
Rosemary ignored her aunt to slip out as far as the porch where she could wave and yell along with the neighbors on each side of her aunt’s house. She listened to the shouts around her, delighted with the dull vibration of elephants’ feet and the tinkly clatter of an Eastern pipe-flute.
The parade lasted less than five minutes—Bushell’s main street was that short—but Rosemary strained to hear the last clinks and clanks of the procession, wishing she could go to the outskirts of town and be there as the tents bloomed into great canvas mushrooms in the empty fields.
All the splendor and sparkle of the moment faded with the restraining hand her aunt placed on Rosemary’s shoulder. “Come away,” her aunt insisted. “I don’t like the looks of those carnival folks.”
“Circus folks, Aunt Fanny,” Rosemary replied, resisting the hand for a moment. “Blake Brothers Big Top Bonanza Extravaganza. I heard the ringmaster announce it.”
“Well, whatever it is, it’s nonsense. And wicked, too. Wicked nonsense. Gives me bad dreams just to think about how wicked those carnivals are.”
Maybe nonsense, maybe not—Rosemary wasn’t sure. But she thought a little nonsense might be a nice thing, once in a while. Just like going to movies at the Imperial, snuggling into the plush seats, and dreaming that her life would someday bloom into a romantic adventure, far from her aunt’s house in Bushell. Far from her aunt, too, Rosemary imagined, allowing herself to be steered back into the house by the pressure of Aunt Fanny’s insistent fingers—but she would send the occasional postcard.
Rosemary had no way of knowing that for just an instant during the circus parade, her unseeing eyes had met those of a very strange creature indeed. From his seat in the side show wagon, he had turned back in his own length to watch her, wondering if she had realized exactly who and what he was.
He marked the house—a tall, yellow-brick spinster in the midst of its more voluptuous and welcoming neighbors—carefully in his mind. He would be able to find it again, after dark.