Lying in bed this morning in our cage listening to the furnace and the rain take turns filling my broken ears with glorious noise, Lochlan conjured up memories in the dark, memories of sailing through the air to be caught by his hands, memories of falling into the net and cracking my fear-set face into a rigid smile for the crowd, recollections of people that would see us in town after the week or after they had been to a show and being surprised we were lovers, but then exclaiming that they just knew we were because we had a bond, a chemistry that was so tangible, even to the audience. No one is that good of a performer otherwise.
We would smile and pose for pictures sometimes. Mostly we would wearily grin and tell them to come back and see us again, briefly slipping into barker-lite. Briefly hawking the board with no loyalties past the paycheque. There was never a reason to let the rubes see the downsides, they just wanted the magic, the wistfulness of wondering what life is like when you actually run away and join the circus.
Who am I to tell them it's not what they expect? Who am I to burst all the bubbles you can blow? Who am I to under-romanticize the one thing that requires no help at all in being the ultimate escapist daydream shared by so many people?
It changes people. It stretches them too. I became worse for it and better for it too. I learned my true capabilities and the extent of my courage. I learned what I will and won't put up with in life. I learned who I was. Everyone is always talking of finding yourself. Join the circus. Get out while you're still alive and look in the mirror now. There. That's who you are. Shoulders back. Smile fixed. Nails caked with chalk. Cheeks caked with soot. Feet blistered and cramped. Stomach rumbling, brain expanded along with your pupils because there's always some bad shit around on your day off and scary rich men trying to buy you as a novelty for their own amusement.
Oh, wait, nevermind the 'trying' part of that analysis.
Everyone wants a pet freak. Absolutely everyone. It's second in daydreams only to the escape ones. If you can't run away you should lock away someone else and then you won't feel so alone.
Just ask the Devil. I'm sure that's exactly what it was like for him. Only instead of a habitat we have a whole point to be contained in.