Circles in the Sand
rating: +2+x

The beach smells like seaweed, sea spray, and dead things.

They will come back for me. They promised.

There's sand between my toes, because I lost one of my shoes when we had to leave. Wait, no. That's not exactly what happened. We didn't have to leave. The Circus had to leave, and we were forced to leave with it. Except I'm still here, on the beach where we had everything set up.
The Circus knows when it's in danger, and sometimes, when it's really scared, it panics and drops colorful balloons, signs, candy, shoes, or little girls, and runs away.

And now I'm on the beach, the one that smells like seaweed and sea spray and dead things, and the Circus is gone.

The lady made of hands was playing with me while we were waiting for the grand opening. We were drawing circles in the sand and trying to only walk on them. It's not easy for her - because she's all hands - and it's not easy for me - because I have small legs. All right. And then Manny came running into the Monsters Den and he yelled, "The ehsseepee! The ehsseepee!", and everyone freaked out, and right after that, the Circus left, and so did my shoe. It was red with dots on it. I liked that shoe. It looked like a ladybug. It was pretty.

The circles we drew in the sand are still there, as well as the handprints of the lady made of hands. A bit further away, there are some other things, all scattered on the beach. Some badly developed photos from the photo studio. Some tarp. Some blue cotton candy. Flyers for the Monsters Den. A part of the multi-colored pole that was used to tie the wizard tiger - I hope the people who run the menagerie will figure that out soon. The tiger always wanted to know what clowns tasted like. Maybe it's its lucky day. But not the clowns'.

I can hear a seagull, far away, towards the rocks. There is no one else on the beach but me. Not even the ehsseepee. I don't know what the ehsseepee is, but it always scares everyone, so I think it's a bad guy who wants to destroy the Circus. Kind of like the emceedee. If the ehsseepee or emceedee are coming, everyone has to leave immediately, and that's exactly what happened.

The red shoe on my other foot is slowly filling with sand.

Where could I go? I'm afraid the Circus won't find me if I get too far away. People say that when you are lost, you should always stay right where you are.
I don't know where my old house was. It must have been very far away, anyway. It was in a country where the weather was very warm, whereas here it's always cold. And my parents, well, they aren't my parents anymore. For one thing, I don't remember what they looked like anymore, or what their names were.

Besides, they always forbid me to do what I wanted. Especially with food. Whenever I ate meat, strange things happened to me – I'd grow big ears, or fur, or scales, or gills, or feathers. At first they just stopped giving me meat to eat, but then fruits and vegetables started doing the same thing to me, and I'd grow buds all over my head, so they tried to hide me. But Manny found me, and he told me I was very pretty and it was very dumb to keep people from seeing someone as unique as me, so I got a new family. And that was the Circus.
The Circus is kind of like a person. It knows where you are, and it finds you on a day when you're unhappy, or very lonely, or locked in the basement because your parents are ashamed of you because of all the branches that are growing all over your head, and after everything that's happened to you, the Circus looks like the best place in the entire world.

Since I couldn't really participate in the big top acts, I lived in the Monsters Den, where there were a lot of weird people. Most of them were nice, but they were a little scary. And sometimes there were strange screams at night, and other people were mean to us, or threw things at us just for fun. Fortunately, Madame Rezarta and the lady made of hands were there to protect me.

On the sign outside, where the boy with the extra eye was selling tickets to the Monsters Den, I was "Karima, the child of Darwin (come and see her evolve right before your eyes!)". The spectators would pay just to see me. I even had an act. I would be given a piece of salmon, and people would go "Ooooooh!" as my arms would get covered in silver scales; a poppy flower, and my hair would disappear under soft green leaves and purple buds; a chicken wing, and my cheeks would get covered in brown and white feathers.
One day Manny brought me parrot meat to try to make a special act out of it, but instead of multi-colored feathers, it just made me grow a beak. It hurt a lot, and Manny was very disappointed, as if I did it on purpose just to spite him. He scolded me a lot.

On the beach, among everything that was abandoned by the Circus, there are also several of my pebbles. I recognize them.

A few hours before the big bad ehsseepee panic, and before the circles in the sand with the lady made of hands, Manny was also scolding me, and this time it was because I had pockets full of pebbles. They were beautiful pebbles, polished ones, with stripes. Manny said, "The Circus is like a big family, Karima. No other family will ever love you like the Circus. And you can't abandon your family, can you?" and I said no, Manny, I don't want to abandon my family, I swear, I was only trying to go pick up pebbles just over the fence, I swear I was going to come back right after I was done, I promise, Manny, please Manny, don't hit me.
So, they will come back for me. They have to come back for me. I'm part of their family. You can't abandon your family, can you?

Maybe the Circus is mad at me because of the pebbles? Is that why it left me behind on the beach? If that's why, it's really not fair.

A seagull is trying to peck at the blue cotton candy.

If I eat the seagull, would I get covered in white and black feathers? Would I have a shrill high-pitched voice? Little round black eyes, like marbles? Or would I get wings, so I could fly away from here and find the Circus?

The sea is rising slowly, and it's erasing my circles in the sand.

They will come back for me.

They promised.

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