It was nauseating. I didn't even want to look at the sickening grin on his face. Slick stone was ice upon my back; we were pushed up against a wallthe side of an arch supporting a cobblestone bridge overhead. Another clap of thunder and a wisp of a November breeze sneaked their way into the half made tent, leaving me to yearn for any cover of warmth besides this unbearably strong "guardian" of mine. There's only latent wrath towards yet another being as this one lets his teasing claws run across my skin. For the longest time ever I've wanted to beat my backstabbing "friend" to a pulp. I've imagined it over and over again.
It's been a week since he ran out of the alley with my dearest sister to escape from them. Leaving me to this particular form of torture after they beat me, forced me to wear frilly dresses and made me risk my life and others' for the art of money and business. Almost dissociating from this immediate reality, I still felt my blood boil as he muttered something incoherent. Now I've begun to slip away
I'm back in the horse drawn carriage with the other children pulled out for their monthly harvest. I still don't know why I didn't go mad right then. They were just as ragged and dirt faced as I was and just as lost and confused. Yet I couldn't bring myself to cry immediately as they did. All I could think about was the well being of my only sibling, hopeful that my new enemy was taking good care of her, despite his poisonous fantasies towards me. It wasn't like him to leave anyone behind; he used to have a heart of gold.
Soft yet distressful wails nearby made me stride over to care for the youngest of them by brotherly instinct. All were cornered in a bed of moist hay. Another clap and a blinding, searing light in the sky shone inside. Ghosts peered up at me with red glass in their eyes. A hole in the road tripped the wheel and the rocking platform sent me falling into a puddle of its dented, rotting floor. I hoped I wouldn't catch a cold; I was soaked to the bone. I sneezed. Tears of bruised orange skies cheered for more while pounding at the painted wood and metal bars of our miniature prison cell. I finally looked outside after half an hour, my fingers gripping the beams tight. The same blue flags danced in the wild air, lacing in and out in the glare of flickering lanterns. Their tiny flames were somehow unable to be doused out by the pouring rain. Menacing black silhouettes joined the peaked roofs against the stormy canvas and began to stare me down. From a far distance I hear a disturbing, jovial tune. The circus was in town.
"Let go of me." Slapping a hand away put the inspector in charge of the "recruitment tent" in shock. I deserved the counterattack. I didn't like the glow in their orbs as they approached a look alike of my sister, Francesca. I was scrawny and hence weak in trying to fight them off, sure. But I was told by this bulging fatty mass with piercings all over, "Got a lot of spirit for a bloody whelp." The so-called "inspector" somehow pulled off the image of another fellow human, even with his beady eyes in a tightly packed face squinting at us as a suckling pig would. We had just realized that we hadn't a bite to eat since before we arrived.
After a bony, tall man with disfigured hell on his face separated us into groups, we finally received a meal of stale bread, a block of aging cheese and freezing river water. I scarfed the roll down before it even dropped into my hands. It was a bad idea of mine to leave the orphanage, after all; I missed supper. It was impossible to try and forget the sneer plastered on my ex-confidante's face, "told you so." Griffin left me behind in that alley; he abandoned me to a terrible fate. Sticky dough caught in my throat and I almost threw up in trying to force it down, gulping for water and air. Something stirred in my heart, as in my gut, causing white hot tears to flow down my feverish complexion.
"Let go!" My hand ripped away from the wall making a fist aimed right at the jaw. Not expecting a laugh, I blindly shoved my whole weight into the diaphragm"Oh!" A sudden growl and yet another knee ran up my newly empty stomach, doubling over. A piercing scream escaped my lungs when he grabbed a hold of my scalp and front strands of my hair
There was something about me that got their leader's attention from the very beginning. Whenever the chafing leather whip was cast towards me, he'd step right in front of the assault, cursing at the top of his lungs at the fat man, who'd give out a gruff retort before wrapping the thick cord around his wrist like a bracelet, trudging off in heavy breaths to find yet another sorry "good-for-nothing brat" who disobeyed their laws. The ringmaster seemed genuinely concerned with my sorry case. He was the first to comfort me in my "home away from home."
It was a circus all right. It was a traveling circus run by gypsies who would pick the kids off the street. Only by a vision fragmented, I could tell that some of them were tall and skinny, and others stout and broad. Their noses varied from a protruding bulb to a melting candle or a stubby carrot; only a couple had a cute button. Their eyes were either slanted or pried wide open. The beautiful and exotic, the lovely and the grotesquethese so-called lion tamers that would act more like animals than the beasts themselves! They would show up in their assigned cages with a weathered, smoldering face full of deep scars with pus filling in fresh wounds. The empty eye sockets and mouths filled with browning, jagged teeth was the last thing a decent townsperson wanted to see; luckily they weren't a tourist's center of interest. After hours, they'd take out an unlucky soul (usually one of their own!) to refurbish their skills in dominance.
Why are we kids here then, of all places? They needed loyal assistants for their acts, apparently. So loyal, in fact, that they have to be willing to cater to every whim and fancy that the star performers so desired. There was only one instance when I found myself tripping over a bag of rope in another foul attempt to escape, falling headfirst into the thick tapestry of a small, carpeted room. To avoid any further trouble, I kept silent as the grave. It was almost pitch black; the stench of frankincense accompanied the muffled sounds of a pleasured moan and the whimper of a girl my age. I couldn't see any moonlit silhouette of their bodies, just the shifting masses under the cover, "lovely kitten,"
You miss your mother?
Did you really think I'm the same age now, telling you all this?
I can't even speak anymore.
"I can give you a wonderful home, if you'll have me."
Why was I left behind? Why did he leave me behind??
"Go away!" Unclean and unkempt nails dug into my captor's cheek at first strike; I think I felt a part of his eye, glistening at the tip of my fingers. He let out a yelp before checking his sight; I was this close to escapinga shimmering blade jutted out of the abyss, centimeters to my neck. Hot air tickled my ear in short breaths. I can't recall what he said. A dry kiss from dry lips planted itself onto the side of my windpipe. Wrenching away did nothing; I was back against the stone, a bit more violent than before. More words spilled from his mouth as I focused solely on the point between my eyes.
Up to this day I still don't understand why I couldn't die right on the spot. Every part of me was touched, and I knew he wanted more. I spat in his face when he smiled for the last time. I couldn't help belt out a dozen times in hysteria as the blade finally did its master's bidding; intricate designs wove into me. The trail's excess rolled out in tiny ribbons, absorbed by the burlap material of my borrowed nightwear. Soon, he reached my face again.
"Why don't you look at me?"
I wish I could have gone blind. The knife glided over and under my eyes with my handler cutting and peeling off succulent flesh off the edge of my sockets. On my left, it curved down my cheek; and on my right, part of my brow was gone forever. Since he cared so much for me, I was allowed to bite down on his gag of a hand to relieve the sharp anguish. Fire coursing through my body left my mind completely numb. A splitting part of me suddenly wanted the sick physical affection that he begged for, just so the pain would stop. But now, there was another voice deep within my head, unlike anything I've ever heard before.
It cried out for its release. My handler had finally loosened his grip on the weapon, and he had then taken his sweaty palms to my face, coming in for a merciful reassurance. The next few moments were nothing but damaged frames of a film reel running across my wild vision. The voice burst in high-pitched laughter; splatters of an old friend stained the ground below me. One more shriek choked on itself before drifting away into nothing. Paralyzed, I began to hyperventilate at the sight of the ringmaster dead on the floor. After inspecting the now ragged features of a once handsome face, I noticed that the ruby-glazed blade was locked into my own shaking hand. Mind racing, the aroma of copper flowing down the breast from his bleeding heart awoke my senses to the reality and beyond it all. The next instant was uncalled for.
Only one person stood at the opening of the tent, and I didn't hell care what his intention was now. Maybe he had come to apologize after all. The last sliver of the moon creeping behind a charcoal cloud and a flash of lightning revealed my old friend's moment of terror. I didn't feel a need to utter a sound; I let my swift attacks and the blade do the talking for me. I really hope that my little Francesca, a vessel of innocence, didn't witness my minute of blind rage.
I ran away from everything and everyone as soon as I fell back into a sense of consciousness and my sanity deprived.
A decade has flown by, and I know that he's still alive and well. Our mutual trust may be severed, but my attachment to Griffin is all but destroyed, hanging by a mere thread. Since that dreadful night I've contemplated on everything, even while leaving my mark on the horrid world around me. What I wouldn't fail to give to have been in his place. Perhaps it would have prevented my baser instincts, rooted in my own survival, from taking over indefinitely. But even then, I wouldn't want to wish my fate on anyone, not even him.