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Carnival Vitae

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I’ve traveled with them for years. I started as a high-wire act. Back then, it was nothing to fly. All I needed was the applause, the appreciative Gasps from tiny faces, far below.

One misstep and that was done. No comparisons to getting back on horses or bicycles could bring me back to that easy dance with risk.

I’ve been the juggler, too. So many balls in the air I could only keep going if I never set one down or counted how many were in the air and always, always kept up a mad caffeine hum.

I’ve been the girl in sequins, holding perfectly still as a man spun me around on a wheel and threw knives and missed by inches, most days.

But now? Jobs are limited for a woman my age. They need a ticket-taker, a fortune-teller, and someone to dip the apples in that red, red candy and wrap them in nuts and plastic to sell with the cotton candy. In another decade or two I’ll only be fit to sweep the peanut shells off the dirt floor.

These are the ringmaster’s offers. Danger free ways to pass the rest of your time here.

Or—

The ringmaster’s eyes flick to the side, to the tent door flapping in a high wind.

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