Ladies And Gentlemen, Boys And Girls
Nikkola Mikocki-Bleeker, Grade 10
Applause. Steady, marked by inflections – the thundering of feet and whistling, but otherwise, steady. Like rain at the end of summer. Applause. Soaring through the air, tangible now like ribbons of oxygen that I breathe in. I taste the audience’s appraisals; sweaty and heated under the glaring lights. I taste snackfoods; peanuts and popcorn and overpriced champagne in plastic cups. I taste ages by their smells; the soapy muskiness of the elderly; crisp, efficient cologne of the business middle-aged types; passionate flowery scents of the young people; and the bare unashamed smell, nutty and milky, of the children. Leather, sawdust and my own victorious sweat like the drink of youth pouring from my heaving, adrenalized body.
Applause. But oh! I feel this moment most, when soon it will end, peter out into non-existence, when their hands will tire of the furious beating. The youngest will begin to forget; turn to their mothers, fathers and grandparents with confused looks on their faces. “Why are we jumping up and down laughing?” they’ll ask. The moment when they will all feel stupid for experiencing this marvellous collective exultation. They’ll start to look around them, and realise other things exist; not just me, standing soaked in equal amounts of light and sweat. Things will come into focus all of a sudden; things that hardly seemed to matter or exist a few moments ago, like your neighbour glaring at you, bathed in the red wine you flung moments ago with unbridled delight into the air. But for now…
Applause. My eyes are closed, head turned face up to the roof. When they open I find myself staring at the circular hole in the ceiling that peeps out at the night sky. And in that tiny patch of reality, the stars and moon look down on me, surprised and frozen as if I’ve caught them doing something they shouldn’t be. Time has stopped, and my future, present and past is all laid out like some giant map that I can navigate. I feel wistful, happy and sad, young and old, suspended between all emotions at once, suffering indecision in the face of something important. Something I should remember.
And then, alas, it begins. The shuffling of bashful feet, scraping of seats as people begin to chatter mindlessly about the next act. A few stragglers hang on desperately, like me, to the dregs of something amazing that is dying. Taking its last breaths. Then finished.
Time begins again. I look down, take a final bow. It feels misplaced – my age is over. The audience is restless. I sheepishly scurry off, behind, where I am invisible. I look back once at the people whom I had claimed for half an hour. I don’t exist beyond this moment for them. No one will think of me doing mundane things like walking the dog or going to the supermarket, but at least now I am polarised in brilliance.
Hi, I’m Thomas. Welcome to the circus.