THE NIGHT BEFORE THE GRAND FINALE, the Circus of Lost and Found was abuzz with excitement.
Word had spread quickly that they were to close for six months, with full pay for every employee and a guaranteed job upon reopening. Unlike LeeLee, most of the circus folk couldn’t believe their good luck. The aerial artists laughed as they stretched their long, muscled legs, talking about what they would do with the time off, where they would travel, what new adventures might await.
WALKING WAS ONE OF LeeLee’s favorite things to do. When she had been younger, far too young to understand that her mother’s bouts of anger and violence had nothing to do with her and everything to do with an inherent mental instability made worse by a childhood in an unforgiving China, LeeLee’s only means of escape had been her own two feet. Inside everyplace they had ever lived was rage and tears and smoldering danger, all set to a soundtrack of fear that rang in her ears like heartbreak. But outside, she was free.
LEELEE WAS BORED.
No, not bored, exactly. More like…restless.
That wasn’t right, either. Restless was something she knew and understood. This was perplexing. She wanted to do something, but she wasn’t sure what. She didn’t want to train. She didn’t want to meditate. She didn’t want to practice reading the tarot or sit on the patio and drink a cappuccino. She thought about trying to find some new gulls who might like her, but she didn’t feel like putting on the protective glove.
“I GOT IT? It’s for sure?”
Florencia pushed the front door open with her hip and put the grocery bags quietly on the kitchen table as Jenna bounded into the living room, phone pressed against her ear. She was bouncing on the balls of her feet and making dramatic hooray movements with her free hand, mouthing I got it I got it as the person on the other end of the phone droned on.
“NO, TRIX, YOU ACTUALLY DO want to make sure your name goes somewhere in the ad.”
“Little brother, that’s not how it’s done.” Trixie said with exasperation, looking at Youssef’s precise, blocky writing on the contract, just before the paragraph stating her requirements at every shoot: Fresh mango. Pre-cut celery sticks. White washcloths. Rose water in a ceramic bowl, not plastic or metal. Makeup that matched her skin tone. Dark chocolate for Lorraine.