“When she danced in the arena I knew her heart pounded there, under the circus floor, under the heels and the ponies’ hooves, under all the sets and sawdust shavings. Nobody wanted to see her wings, but I could make out their transparent shadow…” – SEMMANT
There was only one person who understood me well: a girl four years my senior, an exotic performer in a traveling circus we met up with near Miskolc after we had to flee Budapest in a hurry. She had a large mouth and a searching glance that belied her childish features. She could curl her ears up and straighten them out on command, and the only friend she had until I came along was a toy frog that blew soap bubbles.
Her smile taught me to dream, and her hands taught me something too, though she was completely innocent – just desperately and endlessly kind. When she danced in the arena I knew her heart pounded there, under the circus floor, under the heels and the ponies’ hooves, under all the sets and sawdust shavings. Nobody wanted to see her wings, but I could make out their transparent shadow. I could even hear them flutter – and I felt sorry for her, and she came to me in full-color dreams. Later, we crossed paths more than once: the circus headed north like we had, making its way toward Warsaw, but it lingered for a long while near Tatry and then returned there again and again, as if enchanted by the beauty of the place and the scent of mountain pines on the air.
By then, we had settled in Liptov, where my father got involved in improving the local medicinal waters with the aid of common table salt. He also made friends with the circus troupe, especially with a magician named Simon, as he saw big potential in that line of work. It was there that I turned twelve and the old woman from Ziar peered into my very soul with her dusky eyes. She looked at me in shock and for a long time whispered to my mother, who absently shuffled her cards. I overheard her say, “Are you sure this is your child? Do you know the father? Maybe the devil impregnated you?”
Neither of them could figure it out and they were rattled, indeed; but my mother told my father everything nonetheless. Knowing no better confidant, he grabbed a bottle of slivovitz and went to see Simon, supposedly to learn a silver coin trick.
The circus was touring the thermal pools then, entertaining fat cats with ailing livers. My girl did not dance there anymore; she’d suddenly grown up and run off with some Romanian officer. I bore her no ill will and wished her the best, for somehow I knew: wings are just not meant to last… – SEMMANT
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Winner of the 2015 National Indie Excellence Award for Science Fiction