Welcome back, HoneyScribblers! Hope you've all had a great week and great weekend so far! Monday's just around the corner once again T-T totally not counting down the days till Winter break :P anyways today's post is another short story that I really enjoyed writing and hope you find interesting as well! It's circus-themed, fantasy. brief but impactful, and shows the special bond between a father and daughter :) If you find that interesting, keep reading! Like seriously, what are you still doing here? Go read it! You won't regret it ;) You can check out my other short stories by visiting my old posts (I've created a subheading titled "Short Stories", which is where they can all be found) And this one will be there too very shortly! Okay, onto the story... I'll see you in the next post! Stay safe and healthy <3
TW // fantasy violence, mention of knives
Rings of fire shot into the sky, soaring along the horizon beyond the tent’s rupture. They sparkled like stars on the cusp of bursting apart.
A slew of red and orange danced over her head, jetting out ripples of heat that tickled Destinee's face. She sniffed, swiping at her nose with her hand, and adjusted her ruby bonnet as knives were clumsily juggled here and there.
It was her first time visiting the infamous Circus of Glorin, a place of entertainment spoken highly of by a multitude of townsfolk. Her father wasted no time in retrieving his farm wagon and travelling across the continent so that she could make it in time to the festival before her thirteenth birthday.
Upon seeing the massive tent, Destinee had nearly fainted. It was her dream to join the circus and someday become the star of the show. Miniature-sized people rode on unicycles. An orchestra played a lovely tune that made Destinee want to sway her hips like the performing dancers in stunning shades of blue and yellow. Elephants danced to the beat of the music with large hooves and long trunks.
Bright lights glittered above her head and shined on the ringmaster she admired from afar. I’ll be the ringmaster one day, she told herself. He wore an extravagant costume from head to toe—a silk cape crimson in colour, trousers and boots black as midnight, a whip in one hand, and a top hat that finished the entire look.
Destinee could almost envision herself in the spotlight, clad in a scarlet-red coat with golden accents, black trousers, and a beautiful top hat that—
“Destinee, look at that,” her father whispered in awe, beckoning to the roof of the tent with his finger. She looked up, and a woman with jet-black hair walked on a tightwire. Sheets of white layered her skirt, and her feet were sheathed with thin sheer socks below her ankles. The tightrope walker held poise in her posture as she used her extended arms to balance her weight.
It was extraordinary.
Beside her, an acrobat twirled in the air, and fuschia pink strings coiled around her wrists and ankles. Unlike the other woman, the acrobat appeared uneasy. Her muscles were stiffer than the females Destinee saw on the television. She glanced around, wondering if anyone else noticed. The crowd—including her father—were still entranced by the woman with poise, walking on rope.
Suddenly, Destinee caught a shift in the acrobat’s movement. The lady’s hands were slipping from the fabric that looked all too slippery. Not only that, her harness was missing.
Destinee stood upright from the bench at once, screaming, “She’s going to fall!”
But it was too late.
The string escaped from her grip, slipping past her swollen fingers. Her ankles slithered out of the fabric, and soon, she was falling.
Destinee glanced around anxiously. Everyone stared in shock as the acrobat crashed to the floor, plummeting twelve feet to the ground in loose hay.
The crowd was asked to leave almost immediately. Children sobbed and wailed to their distressed parents. The circus crew shared concerned expressions as medical men and women entered the tent and retrieved the poor woman. Destinee couldn’t help but make her way over, ignoring the shouts of her father.
The acrobat sat on a gurney, her sheened face bathed in sweat. Her eyes met Destinee’s.
“You were amazing today,” Destinee said with a slight shakiness in her voice. She was incredibly starstruck and hoped the woman couldn’t hear her nervousness. “I can only hope to be a performer like you someday.”
Slowly, the woman stretched her mouth into a small smile and muttered in a silky voice, “If you can believe it, you will have that destiny,” before closing her eyes shut as the medical crew took her away.
Her face paled. Did she just—
A rough hand caught her shoulder. “Kid, what are you doin’ here? Run along, now. Back to your family.” A deep, rumbling voice chased her out of her thoughts. She merely nodded, the knot in her throat too tight to utter a response. She caught the glint of a knife in his hand and sprinted away from the tall man.
Her feet moved at their own accord, but soon lost balance from a small ledge protruding from the charcoal-grey pavement. She fell forward, scraping her hands and knees and resisting the urge to burst into tears.
Looking up, Destinee realized that she was lost. The Circus of Glorin had lost the spirit it held hours ago. Now, dimness lurked in every corner, and shadows with it. She wasn’t sure where she was but knew that staying put wasn’t going to solve her problem.
She ambled down narrow pathways and along shops that had closed early for the day. The lamp poles flickered from a chalk white to murky yellow as the sun went down. It must have been an hour or so before her eyes found the first shop that hadn’t yet been abandoned by its owner.
It was a fortune teller’s shop.
Hesitantly, Destinee stepped inside the place, using her hands to separate the portière that veiled the only room in the place.
A woman sat at a burgundy table, sheathed in golden and maroon-coloured fabric from head to toe. Every inch of her body was hidden from sight, save for the tiny slit around her face, revealing her violet eyes.
Unlike the usual crystal balls Destinee had seen on the television, the woman had a beautiful amphora vase clasped in her hands. Her fingernails were long, spiky, and curled around the two vertical handles. She forced herself to not visibly shiver at the sight.
“Destinee Fair, come in,” the lady said in a voice, soft like creamy butter. Destinee took a few steps and sat on the antique chair with velvet red cushions. She took in her surroundings; the room oozed of mauve and garnet tones. Silver jewellry hung from hooks affixed to the wall, but no shimmers of gold. Silver frames sat on the ground, but all were blank. The roof was embellished with sparkles of rose gold, matching the texture of the soft carpet beneath Destinee’s feet. The place was lavish, and she most certainly was not.
She clung on to her bonnet, which now settled in her lap.
“How do you know my name?”
“I know many things,” the woman said ominously.
“Like what?” Destinee asked, curious.
“I know your mother passed from an illness seven years prior, and your father is presently searching for you near the Eastern side of the festival.”
Destinee jumped to her feet. “Really?”
“Yes, but I’m afraid he’s on a path of danger, one that holds precious consequences.”
She stared at the fortune teller. Was her father in danger? Could she trust this woman? “What do you mean by ‘path of danger’?”
“He has journeyed through the depths of which I cannot foretell. I know not of where he is, but have an idea of what might become if his journey does not reach its destination.”
“I-I don’t understand,” Destinee stammered.
The woman turned the vase over in her hands, inspecting the fine edges of where the object curves and handle ends. “Veer right, and head southward. Watch out for the nightcrawlers. Once at the fork, make the choice your heart is drawn to, and take two lefts. Your father will either have found his destination or been lost in the great depths of those who wish to never be found.”
Destinee’s mouth remained agape for a moment before clamping shut. Without another word, she made her way to the exit and peered back to express her gratitude, only to find the fortune teller gone.
Where did she go?
Nevermind, that. I must find Father. She left the shop and followed the directions as instructed. Destinee was grateful that at a young age, she had been taught the ways of the world and how to use them for travelling.
Heading southward, Destinee wondered what the woman had meant by nightcrawlers. Were they pesky rats, or little critters? She wasn’t sure but knew they would reveal themselves soon enough.
As the fork came into view, her footfalls slowed to a halt. A wooden sign was stationed between the two pathways. To her left, the “Circus of Glorin” read in red, bolded letters. To her right, “exit” read in white, bolded letters.
She felt stumped. What was her heart drawn to? The Circus of Glorin, of course.
No, that was what her mind assumed. If her father was still at the circus, he would have found her by now. But if her father had left, that meant that he left her.
Think, Destinee. Think.
Her father came to her mind, but the same words spoken by him years ago sustained themselves in her head.
“I will always be by your side. Night or day. Sun or rain.”
He wouldn’t have left her. She chose to believe that her only remaining parent hadn’t left her like her mother had. And though it wasn’t up to the strong woman that cared for her in the first months of her existence, Destinee always held a grudge for never having the mother everyone else did.
What she didn’t realize was that her father had always been with her, by her side. He took the role of both a father and a mother, showering her with twice as much love and attention. He brought her to a circus dozens of miles away from their farm simply because she had commented about the Circus of Glorin on the television months ago.
He was still with her, even as the day drifted into the night. Her heart chose him deep inside, and this time, she didn’t allow her mind to choose the exit, which only churned her innermost doubts and negative thoughts.
That’s what she meant by nightcrawlers. It was the fears that crawled around her heart at the darkest of night—which couldn’t have been more true as she glanced up at the sky.
With sureness, Destinee crossed the fork and made her way down the pathway that would lead to her father. Her heart beat a strong rhythm, one that matched the tune played by the orchestra earlier.
Taking two lefts, she approached the very place she had met the man with a knife. It was deserted, or so she had thought.
Twisting her head, she made out two people crouched against a wall, sheathed in dim shadows. The person on the left sharpened his weapon with a scrap of metal while the other person had his face tucked in crossed arms, his knees bent.
“Father?” Destinee asked tentatively. She wasn’t certain it was him, and all she thought in that moment was that it would be mortifying to face the person she called “Father” if they indeed weren’t.
The person on the right lifted his head and raised himself up at once. It was her father, and Destinee couldn’t help but choke back a sob. He scooped her into his arms, and she buried her face into his neck.
“Destinee,” he breathed out. “W-where were you?”
She opened her mouth to speak, but closed it when the other person escaped from the shadows. It was the same man from before. He continued sharpening his knife, but something caught her attention. The weapon had the circus’s emblem on it, and it hit her at once.
He was a knife thrower.
It all made sense, and Destinee felt embarrassed for not having realized it sooner.
The knife thrower’s face cracked into a smile, “See, what did I tell ya’? I knew you’d find her.”
“Actually, she found me,” her father said with a chuckle. She chuckled as well. It seemed like she was the destination to his journey all along. Suddenly, the fortune teller crossed her mind.
“Father, did you face any danger while I was gone?” Destinee asked in a grave tone.
He looked away, “Well...I almost did. Had it not been for the acrobat that got injured, I would’ve never met Creg here, who told me that he met you earlier. She convinced me to not give up, that a bright spirit like you wouldn’t “dim in a swathe of darkness”...whatever that means.”
Destinee smiled. The acrobat believed in her. She vowed to believe in herself as well.
She would become a ringmaster one day. More importantly, she’d be the person in her dreams, the one who gave her beliefs and hopes that made life all the more better. And maybe, in due course, she’d meet the fortune teller who showed her the right path to her future and erased her of the hardships she felt from her past. Her mother lived a happy life, from what her father told her.
She would too.
Someday, Destinee thought.
The acrobat was right; the circus was her destiny, and it would always be.
~ THE END ~