Tightrope Walker 5, Marla, collage/acrylic, 6 x 6
Elizabeth W. Seaver
Marla eased out onto the high wire and moved into her first pose.
She checked out the evening's crowd. It seemed to her that every seat was filled to double capacity. The heat from their bodies rose up to meet her where she perched nearly at the top of the tent. When had this stopped being fun and begun to be a job?
Marla had felt it keenly as she watched her daughter, Darla, and her friend, Banks, performing tonight. They glowed with life and energetic youth and....something else. What was going on there? Marla wondered.
"Best put that aside to think about when I'm not five stories in the air," she said firmly to herself.
She hoped her lips hadn't moved as she ruminated. She was still amazed that the audience could see her mouth move from way down there. But it had been mentioned by her boss in her quarterly review. It would not do for anyone to think she'd gone 'round the bend. Good grief! She wasn't even forty yet. She was seasoned,,,skilled...a bird that fledgling performers could look up to and learn from.
Marla was no stranger to the dangers of circus life. She had come from a long line of circus workers. As she was growing up, there was never any doubt in the minds of her family that Marla would follow in their footsteps. When she was twenty, she'd fallen in love with an elephant trainer and not too much time had passed before she'd laid an egg--her Darling (Darla, for short).
But, as is true even in the happiest of stories, tragedy struck. No one really knows what happened that day so long ago now, but Darla's father met an untimely end when an elephant he was working with sat down on him. His squawks for help went unnoticed, and soon it was too late.
"Extinguished in the prime of his life," Marla always sighed as she told the story. Darla rolled her eyeballs behind her mother's back, in the way of teenagers when hearing an oft repeated tale.
And so, there had been no question when Darla was half grown that she, too, would continue the high wire legacy. It was beginning to dawn on Marla, however, that Darla was not a happy bird. Her mother knew she had dreams of dancing ballet, but had discounted it as a passing fancy. Just like her own mother had when Marla had announced her goal of becoming a librarian.
"Well," Marla mused. "Perhaps the time has come to..."
The music swelled, surprising Marla, whose thoughts had wandered so far afield. It was time for her split.
"Oh, dear, I'm off the beat!" she panicked. Quickly she slid down to the wire.........and toppled right off.
"I'm too old for this shit," she said as the ground rose up to meet her. This time she was sure her lips had moved. And sound had come out. And everyone had heard it.
She opened her wings, gave a mighty flex and gently landed on the straw covered floor. The crowd clapped in appreciation, and Marla sketched a sassy bow.
She marched off stage and into the manager's office, flinging open the door.
"I quit!" she announced.