Cirque de Lumiere
Well this is the first time I'm ever doing a Quibblo Contest, but I hope you guys like it!
When I heard the theme was 'traveling' I thought it would be a bit unique to do a circus. I APOLOGIZE THAT I CAN'T TYPE ANY OF THE PUNCTUATION FOR THE FRENCH NAMES AND SUCH. I'll try to make it as accurate as I can but I'm sorry if the research is a tad off!
If enough people enjoy it I might write more after the contest is done!
Please comment and rate!
SORRY ABOUT THE LENGTHY FIRST CHAPTER!!!
Circus of Light: Dublin and Carlingford, Ireland
After the first hour or so, the train was starting to get stuffy and I could almost hear my hair starting to frizz. At first I was going to open a window, but as I was reaching to undo the latch I saw a yellow sticker that read: WARNING! DO NOT OPEN WINDOW WHILE TRAIN IS IN MOTION. I was the only one in the car right now- everyone else was in the dining car- so I decided to turn on the air conditioning, instead. After a minute or so of searching, I found the panel on the wall and cranked it on full blast.
I dropped to the thinly carpeted floor and started stretching for my routine. My acrobatics routine, that is.
My name is Cher Sylvestre. I was only fifteen when I quit school in my small town in France. Education wasn't even considered that important where I lived. Honestly, the only jobs for miles were agriculture careers. And don't call me a quitter, because my family is so poor we couldn't afford a car. There was no way we could move to Paris, or anywhere else that served a promising future for me or my little sister Louise. She was only four at the time, but no one in the world could mistake us as sisters. I wasn't going to let every opportunity for the rest of our lives slip away that easily.
But luckily I have a talent. Well it's more of a gift actually. I'm basically a human pretzel. A human pretzel with uncanny strength and a knack for balancing. No one in my family is sure where my skills come from. Many of the people in my family tree have suffered from cancers or joint disorders. All the money gone towards their treatments has put me where I am today.
When I turned fifteen, I begged my mom for a chance to go to Paris. Just for a day to look for any opportunities for us. After she insisted we couldn't spare the resources, I insisted I would walk. I sat outside in a tree for three days until she agreed to let me go. I nearly hugged her in half and started packing immediately. But it wasn't as though I had much to pack: just one change of clothes, a pillow, and twenty-five Euros. As childish as it seems now, I crossed my heart and pinkie promised that I would be home within two weeks.
As it turns out, I didn't even make it to Paris. Somewhere along the way (perhaps a day and a half from my house) I ran into quite the outgoing man. His name was Isaac Benjamin. With much enthusiasm he told me he was starting a circus and had very few members, and wondered if I had any talent of use to him. Clearly, he was desperate.
So I backed into the grass and showed him some of the tricks I could do. I performed a few back flips; back hand springs, and then showed him some of the more uncommon talents I had. For example, I could lie on my stomach bent completely in half so that my feet arched over my head and in front of my face.
I kid you not when I tell you he dropped to his knees and said a silent prayer. At that point, my cheeks had turned bright red because it felt like I had been showing off. Then Mr. Williams stood and told me he would be honored to have me join.
After many arrangements were made, my parents were contacted and so on, I had joined the circus.
The Cirque De Lumiere, meaning, Circus of Light!
I had made many friends and been struck by many astounding things since I joined the circus, but this topped everything: after about six months of us traveling France, we were going to tour worldwide!
We would be traveling to six of the seven continents (obviously not Antarctica) and finishing with a performance in Paris, France. This, Isaac had decided, would be the best way to spread our name and have people flocking to France by the end of the summer.
My mom cried when I told her the news and told me how proud she was. My dad promised they would all be there to see me when I got home. And Louise- sweet, adorable, perfect little Louise- told me she would plant a flower for everyday I was gone until I returned. I almost started crying and promising never to leave, when I realized they wanted me to go because it was such a wonderful experience. So I told Louise that I was going to make every second count.
So that puts me where I am now: on a train to Dublin, Ireland. Why we aren't on a plane, I have no idea. Perhaps it was more economically savvy to take a boat from France to Ireland (which my stomach will probably never forgive me for), then go right to the train station. And we aren't even performing in Dublin, either. Cirque de Lumiere will be putting on a show just outside of Carlingford, Ireland. And I'm not quite positive but I think Isaac mentioned staying at 'The Merrion' hotel.
All of a sudden the train came to a screeching halt. I had been practicing my 'scorpion' and slammed into the window due to the fact I was standing on one leg. As far as I could see we weren't at a train station or anything.
The air conditioning had almost chilled me to the bone at this point so I almost shut it off when I remembered the window. I stood on one of the rugged plush seats and undid the latch. When the gap was several inches wide, I slithered out the window and found purchase on the roof of the train.
Once I was up, I stood on top of the train and could see emerald hills rolling in every direction for miles. The sky looked like tie-dye pink and orange as the sun was just setting over the horizon. Lavender clouds glowed in silver as they drifted over the jade blanket of Ireland. It was breathtaking.
"I figured I could find you up here," said a familiar voice behind me. I whirled on my heels as I turned to face Avril Mercier, clinging onto the edge of the train.
At fifteen years old, Avril was just a year younger than I was. She has pale blonde hair, while I have reddish brown hair, partially dyed from my circus performances. We both have blue eyes, and her face is dotted with freckles. Avril has been in the circus business as long as she can remember, and the same goes for her seventeen year old brother Andre. They were both orphans at a young age, and goodness knows how they made it to the circus. Her main act is with her horse, but she knows how to juggle, ride a unicycle, and has started to dabble in trapeze.
Where most of the circus comes from, we know or have learned how to speak both English and French, because it makes the traveling and performing process easier.
"Do you know why we stopped?" I asked her.
"Um... yeah. Andre was practicing his knife throwing routine by throwing knives at Majeste's lock. He was just a bit too successful because he hacked the lock right off..."
"Oh my goodness! Is everyone alright?"
"Yes, but poor Majeste was a bit freaked out from the motion of the train. The last thing we need is a freaked-out horse, so we had to pull the emergency break."
It's a good thing it was just the circus on this train. Majeste (French for Majesty) was the horse Avril did her routine with, and Andre did just about anything weapons. Archery, knife-throwing, even sword-swallowing! You name it.
"Come on," Avril beckoned me toward the edge of the train. "We're bound to start up again soon, and we're almost to Dublin."
The Merrion hotel was by far one of the fanciest places I have ever visited, but then again that might be an understatement. Avril and I were going to be sharing a room, but we couldn't see everything fast enough.
To begin with, our room was spectacular: we each had our own bed, a balcony, a TV, and a bathroom all to ourselves! Not to mention the thick layer of carpeting that I could lay on all day with my face pressed up against the floor.
Then the rest of the hotel only got better; there was a blooming garden out back, quaint dining rooms that served almost any type of tea you could name, and an indoor pool! I loved the way the tile floors clinked against my shoes, and there was a wrought iron gate and stunning display of stone pillars outside as the front entrance. This was so much nicer than where I used to live, it was more like paradise than Ireland as I had imagined!
We never even got the chance to unpack our bags; we were too busy exploring. How Isaac managed to afford all of this, I had no idea; that man could work wonders when he wanted to.
At one point, Avril and I sat down in one of the dining rooms and ordered some tea. I ordered a small cup of black tea, with a dash of milk and minimal sugar. The waitress raised her eyebrows and warned me that it was best consumed in the morning, but I waved her off. If there was anything I could handle, it was a cup of tea, even if I've never had any before.
Imagine my surprise when I took in a mouthful of the strong, bitter, brew. I choked it down, put on an artificial smile, and nodded enthusiastically. (At least I waited until the waitress was way around the corner before I dumped the tea into a nearby plant.)
All of a sudden, I am reminded of my mom, and how on her birthday and on Christmas we would supply her with her favorite type of tea, maybe even sugar and honey if we could afford it. And the plants brought back memories of Louise promising the flowers for every day I was away. Just then did it occur to me how I'd rarely even thought about my family since we'd left, and I felt ashamed. They were my entire world.
So in that instant, I vowed to bring part of the entire world back to them.
I grabbed Avril by the hand and yanked her up.
"Ow!" she exclaimed. "That's HOT you know?!"
"I'm sorry!" I winced, looking at the bright red mark on her arm the spilled tea had left. "I have to go talk to Isaac!"
I could see something spark in her eyes. "You're forgiven. Let's go!"
"How much money could you possibly need?" Isaac asked with raised eyebrows. He was sitting on a soft red armchair, in front of the fireplace, with his own cup of tea. I knew he was teasing me, but I didn't bother to acknowledge it.
"Just enough to get a blank journal from town. Please," I pleaded. "It's only a journal, nothing more."
"What for?" He said smiling, and that's how I knew he was giving in.
"If I wanted you to know, I would tell you," I said, grinning back.
"Well, I suppose." He reached into his coat pocket and handed me the money, without counting or confirming the right amount. "I'm sure this should suit your needs quite well."
"Oh, thank you!" I declared. "I promise I won't let you down tonight!"
"Of course not, Cher," he answered mysteriously. "You never do."
I rushed out of the room, before Avril could even get a word in, and yanked her out the front door and into the streets of Dublin.
In comparison to the Merrion, the rest of Upper Merrion Street was pretty plain. Most of the buildings were three or four stories tall and covered in brick. On the main street, the buildings were wider and the streets were lined with green foliage, but still no architectural wonder. It didn't take us long to find a store that would sell us an empty journal.
"So when are you going to spill," Avril prodded. "What is this all about?"
"It's to give back to the people who gave me everything I once had," I said with a smile.
She smiled back- she knew who I meant- and she didn't ask anything else.
"Ladies and gentle men, people of all ages, may I present to you, the astounding, the magnificent, Cirque de Lumiere: the Circus of Light!"
At Isaac's words, the crowds of Carlingford went crazy. It hadn't taken us long to set up the tent and seating in the open fields. We didn't start until every last seat was occupied.
The acts were more incredible than they had ever been, or maybe all my excitement was getting to me. And 'Circus of Light' it was indeed. Avril went on with Majeste as one of the first acts. Each of their garments and accessories were covered and gold beading, so when the spotlights hit them, they glittered like candlelight. Once Majeste was in a pretty strong gallop, Avril stood on her back. The crowd started cheering. But they hadn't seen the best of it yet. She took a step forward, and went into a handstand- might I just add on one hand!
But she put her other hand down and held onto the saddle as Majeste leapt over three modest hurdles.
I went along with the crowd and clapped and cheered on the side lines the entire time. Soon enough it was my turn. Tonight I would be performing my aerial act. My full body leotard was shiny and reflective silver, and the aerial silks were translucent white. When the lights were dimmed and the spotlight went on behind me, I was illuminated. I was glowing- perhaps like a star.
And I was in my own universe as I dove and twisted and tumbled and wound myself in the ribbons. The cheering crowd faded into the background. I was free and safe up here, high above the ground, where no one could touch me, and I wasn't planning on plummeting to Earth any time soon.
When my act was over, I took a bow and headed back stage. I drank tons of water and stretched a lot to prevent sore muscles later.
After the show, Isaac did something slightly unexpected. In the nearby fields outside of the tent he had set up a long table, filled with food, and let the performers outside so we could talk, take pictures, and eat with the guests of the circus. We usually just pack up and wait for everyone to leave, but I wondered if this was part of the world tour experience. There was (or at least I'm assuming) Irish folk music playing in the background. It was so upbeat and festive, I would have done a jig if I knew how to. Instead Avril and I walked outside the tent and saw the fluorescent white lights that had been set up around the table so everyone could see in the darkness. I just walked outside barefoot, feeling the dew from the grass on my toes. After almost an hour of taking pictures and stirring up friendly, polite conversation, I went to go pile up a plate of food.
It seemed like your average Irish food, the kind of thing we would have occasionally on St. Patrick's Day back home: corned beef, cabbage, shepherd's pie, and baked potato. I was expecting something a bit fancier, but boy did I regret thinking that once I started eating. The corned beef was tender and flavorful; the cabbage was perfectly seasoned; the shepherd's pie blended just right in my mouth; and the potatoes were cooked so well that I almost melted like the butter dissolved on them.
Then I saw something out of the corner of my eye that made me set my plate down. The noise of performers and the Irish socializing became a distant hum. I grinned like a maniac as I ran to a patch of clovers in the grass. There, sprung up in the middle of the patch, was a four leaf clover, barely the size of my thumb. I've never seen one before, but I could guess who would love it.
I plucked it from the ground and ran to my dressing room, to put it somewhere safe.
For a moment, I wished I was home right now so Louise could see it, too.