Circus Comes Home (story draft 1)

Circus Comes Home
draft 1

Watching through the window Marta saw the little girls filing down the church steps in their wedding dresses. She’d been raised Pentecostal but she’d often wished she too could have had her own child sized wedding dress and been like the real little girls with the agua de violeta scented hair. Not the little girl with the drab long brown skirt and serious braids. The sun hit the little girls full on the face and Marta thinks it’s as if she had xray vision into their brains, into their dreams of big full lives with smart jobs, good husbands, sweet babies. Her breath caught and she tore herself from the radiant hope filled faces. Still immortal. She’d had so many dreams when she was seven. The year her father went to prison and her mother moved to the city a acabarse de joder.
She smelled the burnt milk and without really looking she turned off the flame. Half the milk had boiled over so she busied herself scrubbing it off the burner before it dried on. She’d dreamt of being a solista in the church. Of marrying a pastor. Sometimes she’d even dreamt of being a pastor herself. For a while her mother used to take her to a church with a woman reverend. But something happened between the woman and her mother, Marta never knew what. Something often happened in those storefront churches and the feligreses fell away. Marta imagined she’d be one of the ones who figured out how to stay, but then at 14 she’d fallen in love with somebody’s husband. She’d given in to temptation. She found herself in the backseat of his car with her skirt up and her panties shoved to one side and his hand inside her and his penis peeking out of his pants. Like an extraterrestrial alien. It was as if she suddenly came to and there she was. How had she gotten there? She sat up and ran outside and walked alone at night through the middle of the park, almost hoping god would send a homicidal mugger her way to put her out of her misery and her shame. When she came home Mami said she could smell the sex smell on her, and she hit her in the face and in the ass with a flat hand until Marta told her what had happened.
Mami made a scene in church. She dragged me to the service in my yellow dress. She pulled me by the hand down the central aisle all the way to where the man was sitting with his pregnant wife and started to yell. Corruptor. Violador de ninas. De ninas. Apenas acaba de cumplir 14 anos. One of the senoras came up to Marta’s mother and somehow put her arms around her and Mami’s screams became sobs and she crumpled into the woman’s arms and one of the elder men took Marta’s beloved who was barely 19 and had gotten married to his pregnant girlfriend to do the right thing, to the back of the storefront. The pregnant bride ran outside into the street and her best friend ran out after her. The memory sat in Marta’s mind like a snapshot, far worse than the near sex in the car.

That was why Circus didn’t get to grow up in a church. Because after that Marta never wanted to go back again and Mami stopped making her go. What safety was there when her daughter could get seduced under her nose during the services?

Today was the day Circus came home again. And this time she knew she’d make it be different. He had sworn in his letters and when she visited that this time he had gotten it and this time he’d taken jesucristo into his Corazon. It didn’t sound quite the same. Margot her neighbor whose sons were older kept telling Marta that if they made it to 25 years old sometimes they aged out of the madness. Marta didn’t tell her Circus’ father never had, nor had her own father because Margot held fiercely to the evidence of her own sons and if she once letgo of that knowledge all would be lost. Her knowing her faith made it so. One of her sons had gotten a job in a warehouse and kept it and was made the manager. He’d learned how to lead and organize people on the street. The other was working as a peer counselor in a drug program run by a Pentecostal church and Margot said he’d saved the souls and bodies of dozens of boys.

Circus at the door was never what Marta expected. All encounters with Circus went so fast. Not like her dream two nights ago. Circus, huge, in a red tshirt, hugging her in the hall, heart to heart, for a long long time. Long enough. She opened the door. It was 11 at night. She’d been waiting reading the same sentence in her book over and over, waiting for him to arrive. At home he was still Carlito. Her Carlito. Her little boy. How was she to have known those afternoons with him running, crawling onto her lap for a quick nurse; or those tub baths together; or those long walks to the park to sit on the fat low tree branch to watch the boats on the river, were the best years of her life. Why hadn’t she paid more attention? Was it because she didn’t pay enough attention and wasn’t sufficiently present and didn’t embody with her presence the safety of life, the goodness of life, that she’d lost Carlito to the street. That Carlito became Circus. That being Circus was more real and more important and identity than being Carlito?
And now the moment she’d been longing for the two years Circus was away, had come and gone. He was at the door. He hugged her for barely a second. He was huge like in her dream, from his prison working out. She could see in his gaze that he was spinning. He barely looked at her. He didn’t want her to look into his light brown eyes. He barely sat to shovel in the black beans and white rice and pork chops she’d made for him. Before, that was his best meal. And then Carlito was gone to find his friends, was gone to become once again Circus.
And Marta was again watching for him out the kitchen window.
All her life she’d been waiting for a man to come home. The Father she never knew. The husband she never had. And now it was Carlito. She stared at the window wondering if this would be the night he didn’t make it home. Wishing, god help her, wishing for just one moment, that he was still in prison because then she knew where he was.
Circus partying hard like old times from the first night he’d come home made Marta want to die.
Circus has no job
Circus on the avenue stabbed 13 times
Circus in the coffin
Resting in peace