The third time I met Johnny, I was still on my second set of foster parents, and I thought he must have spent the evening with them while I wasn’t looking. He didn’t say anything about my bruises, so I figured I shouldn’t say anything about his and instead I said, “There’s a circus in the theater parking lot.” And: “I’ve never been to the circus.”
He grinned and we were off, and I felt this bubble swelling in me, and when the man did a double flip off the back of his horse and landed perfectly, I was catapulted from my seat, I squeaked.
We cut out of the tent through the side and wandered around and I tried to make my breath fit back in my chest but I couldn’t focus, there were all these lights and sounds and I didn’t want to shut them off.
Behind this one tent, we suddenly found ourselves part of a gaggle of performers. A tall Russian man in tights was walking beside me and I was following a clown whose lady’s teased up bangs reached the top of his thighs. I looked up at Johnny, but he was looking straight ahead like nothing was happening, even as the woman practiced little leaping turns from one side of him to the other, her tutu sparkling pink and silver in the lights. We moved like that, all of us, across the lot until suddenly, it was too much for me, I had to stop, doubled over, leaning on my knees.
And then he helped me up a little hill outside the gates and we just sat and watched from a distance until the lights blinked out for the night.