Circus Girl


Jenny didn’t have to run away to join the circus—it came to her. But not with midgets, bearded ladies or elephant men in tow. No sir, the circus had gone out and bought itself some style. Cirque de Magie rolled into town polished but sterile, with a poster that was slick and silver.

“I’ll wait for the movie,” I said disdainfully.

“It’s not at all what you think,” she said. “The circus is not a carnival. There’s been a renaissance. The circus has class.”

“You’re just saying that because its name is in French.”

“Don’t be absurd, François, Not everything French has class.” She gazed up at the advertisement. “You’ll take me,” she said. A week later, she was gone.

It was almost a year before she came crawling back. “I need a place to stay,” she said, presenting her two broken arms.

“Absolutely not,” said Celeste.

But Jenny had nowhere to go. Her apartment—our apartment—had been sublet months ago. And we couldn’t expect the circus to cart her around.

“She can’t even urinate by herself,” I told Celeste. “And the hospital won’t keep her. They need the beds.”

Celeste was horrified. “You better not be suggesting that you’re going to be the one to help her?” I assured her I wasn’t.

Jenny had a nurse. What she needed was a place to be nursed.

Celeste’s resolve buckled when Jenny arrived. The plaster casts went up to her elbows, and most of her fingers had been immobilized by splints. She couldn’t even boil water. I had never seen her balance so askew. She had always moved with natural precision and now she tottered, as if permanently drunk. The accident had broken, fractured, sprained, bruised, scraped and scarred my Jenny, but she was still as lithe as always.

“You must be Celeste,” Jenny said. “François and I are getting married,” Celeste replied.

Read & see the rest in Geist #52.



Toby Sharpe


I don’t know where a person can go when they disappear, apart from underwater.


Young Earle Birney in Banff: September 1913¹

what a day!at the Basin2 dove from the tufa overhanginto the water, playing my trick ofseeming to drown, not coming up until I finish wrigglingthrough that underwater chimneyand burst into air. always startles the tourists.


Zamboni Driver’s Lament

i know hate, its line-mates. believe me. you kids have, i’m sure, wasted—all early morning anxious and weak-ankled—their first impatient shuffle-kicks and curses on me.