Claire Schön, LISP 2022 Flash Fiction Finalist by 'I Was Planning To Stay Home And Bake Bread'
I Was Planning To Stay Home And Bake Bread
The day the circus comes to town, I am at home, baking bread.
At least, that is what I am attempting to do. Lightly flouring my hands, the bland, white powder rushes through my fingers too fast. The dough is sloppy, has no form nor bounce to spring back from; it's sticky, stuck.
I stare down at the sludgy, beige paste. The last eighteen years in accounts for Pollock & Prue kneaded, three children folded, and a marriage knotted into the misshapen nothingy ball before me.
The noise from the neighbouring field draws me: the thrum of a drum caught and slammed into cymbals, a roar and a trumpet whipping terrified excitement into swirls of colourful chaos, preparing for the precise performance, anticipating an audience’s applause.
I peek through a gap in the scarlet canvas; it swallows me, spitting me out mid-twirl on the trapeze. Twisting, turning, somersaulting.
A white-gloved hand rips me out of my reverie, lying on grass not yet trampled by the masses, still bright green.
‘No slacking, you! Back to your troupe,’ a bear of a man, dressed in satin tails and a tremendous top hat, booms, pulling me by my earlobe.
Mr Pollock would never have done such a thing, not even at year-end.
I get (back) to work.
The moment we have all been waiting for upon us: opening night. Lights flood air caught in suspense, drowning out whispers, engulfing expectations.
I swing to and fro, high and low, my belly flipping, firing, fizzing.
I sparkle and dazzle from my free-flying hair to the tips of my twinkling toes.
I’m up here. ‘Look at me,’ I scream.
Riotous cheering raises me high above to soar amongst ruby red and shimmering silver silk sheets suspended from the Big Top, above everything. I am everything.