Ahh. Poor old manager. Nobody likes a bit of melancholy clouding up their Friday, do they?
So, that’s the first line – well, the first line to the preface, anyway – of Vanity Fair. But just what did you guys do with it?
Excellent stuff, that’s what. You took that manager and you made him miserable for all kinds of reason. Shout-out this week to the bear. We loved the bear.
Anyway. Want to have a look at our winners? (Trust us, you do).
Here they are:
RUNNER-UP: Jaine E. Irish
There they were – his “friends” – people he thought he knew. He had been there for each one of them; listening, holding, feeling their pain. Yet here he was, alone, on an empty stage, the curtain closed and before him, a raging sea of polka dots, checks and black and white stripes. Weird hats, ruffs and huge, satin bows weaved a rich tapestry in front of his eyes. Bangles with bells on that jangled as they danced about and shoes – shoes like you have never seen before.
He never asked to be Manager. All he wanted to do was sing – to Lulu. Everyone had laughed, pushed him away and scuttled off into their own hot, little tents.
Inside he was screaming. His teeth clenched along with his buttocks and he found it hard to breath. Hot tears tipped off his lower lids melting furrows through the greasepaint on his face.
He dragged himself up from the hard, wooden boards . He lay the palms of his hands flat against the tight, velvet black waistcoat and pulled sharply on the two pointy bits at the bottom with his pinched fingers and thumbs.
Standing, he felt a bit better – his lungs dropped inside his skin and puffed up as he sucked in the smoky air. He lifted his chin and stuck it out. He closed his eyes and visualized. She stood before him, Lulu, her fabulous, yellow hair piled on top of her sweet head and her own dear little eyelids closed – waiting.
WINNER: Paul Jenkins
Sergei Plovda, the last of The Great Plovda Brothers, once admired and loved from Novosibirsk to Novi Sad, sits before a faded curtain and stares out into the summer night.
He has long retired from the trapeze. He had moved with his brothers into circus management. And now he is the Last Plovda, not so magnificent.
The sound of excited families, the laughter that kept you warm long into the cold nights – and let me tell you those nights east of the Steppes could chill a newlywed’s bones – could not be heard this evening by Sergei.
When you understand the sadness in a clown’s eyes, it is time to leave the circus. His eldest brother, dear Konstantin, had told him that many years ago. And now he felt that time upon him.
Where do acrobats go when they can no longer fly? They become soldiers, drinkers, compulsive gamblers. They die as all men must, just earlier than most.
There are no retirement parties for the circus folk. There are drinks. Many, many drinks but these are wakes for the living, not farewells to colleagues headed for the golf course.
The queue to the tent is now a trickle, the seats nearly full. Soon the ringmaster’s voice will announce the wonders to come.
It is a glorious summer’s evening, the setting sun a deep cut around a battered boxer’s eye. Lilacs, pinks, mauves. A sky to make an old man cry.
Somewhere behind Sergei, a tiger roars.
The show has begun.
Congratulations, Jaine and Paul! And thanks to everyone for a brilliant bunch of stories.
Happy weekends, happy writing!