The carnival rolled into the fields at dusk, its spirited music carried into town by the wind. The rollicking melody ceased as the last of daylight faded from the onyx sky, the tents and skeleton tracks invisible in the dark. Far off only the lights, dull orange and strung around the newly erected gates, could be seen through the night.
A dew strewn dawn had barely begun before the music resumed. The melody chased the young of the town from their beds and into their parent’s rooms. Those who did not have parents, or those whose parents were not the sort to bring them to such things, emerged from their beds without the stop and made their way to the fields alone.
And so, with their coats buttoned tight against the resiliently grey sky, the town made their way to the great gates of Madame Beltones Illustrious Travelling Troupe and Illusions Symposium.
Admission was remarkably fair at two penny. Exactly enough for any match girl or paperboy to spare without too much of a thought. And once inside such thoughts were, with the first touches of the places’ magic, a thing of a long distant past.
Great tents rose like captured beasts, claws puncturing the ground with ropes securing them as they struggled in the wind. Their canvas doors snapped, bestowing glimpses of the dark shapes and sharp teeth waiting within. The cars of the caravan had been unfurled like so many blooming flowers to entice those who happened by. Bright colors and crowing voices beckoned those who fashioned themselves ladies and gentlemen.
There were things to see. Attendees were ushered into small rooms where smoke would curl about their noses and young woman would disappear into boxes, men would swallow blades, and everyone was promised they were quite alright. Mirrors would ripple, revealing other more magical yet unreachable places. Heavy eyed grandmothers with curled hair would bend forward to show futures in cards, glass, and palms. And after the wide eyed participants would stumble into the daylight and into the rushing cars of rickety thrill rides.
And also, there were things not to see. However, with the orange lights, great snapping tents, and music playing on and on, very few did. But for those who blinked their way from the spell to see the yellowed eyed men loitering between the carts, or the hungry women with cat-like smiles lounging on cart steps, they were there. Rust crawled up the great wheel where people were locked within and thick clouds of too sweet smoke wafted from the tent where parents had disappeared too long ago. Beneath the fried warm smells of food a miasma of travel and rain soaked wood covered the carts, canvas, and cars.
For most though, the music played and the carnival ran on. Until the orange light from the hanging bulbs swelled to stave off the night and slowly the town rubbed the magic from their eyes.
This week I am neither a thief nor on time. The above first line was stolen by a few thieves who were quite punctual. Check them out at the Legal Theft Project.