The Carnival
A short story by Raea Adams


The first time I went to the carnival, it was amazing. Though ever since then, it’s never quite as magical, it feels like there is something missing. Something that had been there the first visit.

Let me take you back to the first time I went to my little town carnival and all of its breathtaking magic.

This particular day was just like any other average day, well, almost like an average day. I picked out a special outfit the night before and got dressed in my strangest and craziest carnival clothing. I found an overcoat that was black and cherry red, it stopped at my waist. The back however split into a twin tail finish that ended a little farther down. Then I found leggings that looked like stained glass, maybe the colors clashed a little, but I was going to a carnival. To finish it all off I put on a pair of black gloves with red frill around the the wrist end. It was a Saturday so there was no school, it really was fated to be fun filled and fantastic day. I rushed downstairs to tell my Dad that the carnival was starting back up, and a surprise they announced just recently.

“This year they’re bringing back the whole circus section! It really is a must see!” I told him; an aura of geeking encompassing me. He laughed a little and told me about how the carnival was when he was a kid. He mentions how it started the same year he turned eight, he really loves the number eight. And how it was even greater the second year when they added the big top circus tent.  

“It’s great they brought it back, I remember when they first started it. And how they let everyone in free their premier day to show they had faith in their carnival’s certain success. The family that ran it was peculiar, I mean they run a carnival, but they were a lot of fun. It was sad when they closed it down.” He told me stories about the flying trapeze people, the carousel, and of course the ringmaster. I quickly flipped up some pancakes and lathered them in syrup. I scarfed them down and dashed off into town. By the time I reached the town plaza, I forgot the carnival didn’t start until the afternoon. I didn’t want to go back home, that’s like giving up in my mind, so I wandered around. They were setting up the big top circus tent  first, it was astonishing, this big tent was being set up in front of me. Dad always talked about us going camping and setting up the tent, we never did though. Though one time he had me help set up a tent in our backyard; it was incredibly hard the way we did it. Yet these people just set up that huge tent and never once dropped their smiles; they truly loved what they did. They didn’t seem to mind my existence as they set up, I watched them bring in the couple rides and everything. The carousel looked old, it was breathtaking gorgeous; it was really something else. Other people stopped by but fled from the scene seeing as it wasn’t set up and running yet.

I continue to think back to that day, they all missed the real magic and half the experience. By the time everything was brought in and set up, nobody still had come back. So all of the freak side show performers met with me! It was stunning, I sat in their tent as they came on stage and shook my hand, bowed with me, etc. There was the bearded lady, the sword swallower, the impaler, and so many performers. Most just had genetic defects or as they called them “Variations”. Then by the time I had met everyone, still nobody had showed up, it blew my mind how empty the place was. I unleashed my pretty strange and out of the ordinary self that day. I let all of the atmosphere and energy from the performers engulf me into their reality. They told me I could perform if I wanted to, I went on stage after they announced my name. “Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, entering the stage. Is the one and only, Alia the heart charmer!” The one man had announced, then I pounced on stage and pretended to put the ghost audience in a trance. It was one of the grandest experiences I have had; ever. The one lady who came by said she could teach me to actually breathe fire if there was enough time. I politely declined, I didn’t think spitting fire was something I wanted to do. After I had spent a good deal of time in the freak show tent I said bye to everyone and continued my carnival experience.

Barely anyone was still around, but that was okay, it gave the place more atmosphere. It was kind of like the ghost carnival, I went on the carousel over and over, each time riding a different horse; it was truly timeless. Then I went around and bought cotton candy, candy apples, and more! This was a small town carnival, but they came back for this year with everything. They didn’t go halfway to being a beautiful carnival then stop, no, they went to be the greatest carnival I had ever seen or read about. Maybe all real carnivals are supposed to be like that, I didn’t know, it was my first time at any carnival. After eating all the food I could fit in my belly and going on the rides that there were half a million times. There was few things left, well, a few different things. I played all of the games which left me with clinging to a ton of prizes, stuffed animals, candy, and other small but fun trinkets. Still, nobody really came, maybe the carnival was just outdated for most people, it used to be loved by all. But now time seems to have devalued it, made it worth a lot less than the face value. But I had never really lived around anywhere where there were carnivals or circuses often, so I guess I just got lucky.  But, the last thing I had left to see was the main event, the big top circus! I was absolutely excited! I rushed inside and bought more cotton candy and peanuts, it seemed like the right thing to do, like circus etiquette. I took my seat among one or two others, they seemed to be like me. Excited, thrilled, new to the world. And they also looked like they spent hours doing their makeup and just getting dressed. The lights went dim, and the spotlights started up. They flew from side to side, building up hype until they met in the middle. There stood a man in a suit and top hat; the Ringmaster.

“Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls of all ages! You have entered a world of mind numbing magic and illusions, a world of wonder, a world where anything can happen! Now, I’ll let the performers speak for themselves. I will not put anything more into your heads, I wouldn’t want to spoil the fun. Now, enjoy the show.” With that said he bowed and went off stage, then the lights go out, this time completely pitch black. Then music started to play, classic carnival music.  The lights dimly came back, there was a beautiful lady performing ballet in place in the center. She was blindfolded on, two men came out, they had torches that were ablaze. They touched them to the floor around her, flames exploded from the ground around her. My mind was amazed! I could feel the heat! It was mental, I watched the others jump up in amazement like me. She kept dancing, undisturbed, untouched by the fire around her. After a moment I thought she was going to stop and put out the fire. But that’s not what happened, oh no, instead the unthinkable happened. More lights revealed two people on top of the highwire, both starting to walk towards the middle on opposite ends. It was insane! Not only was a lady performing ballet, nonstop in place in the middle of a fire ring! But! There were tight rope walkers walking the highwire, two of them! Walking towards each other above the already magnificent scene. Once they met, I imagined it was all over, but instead they held hands. Then fell off the highwire! The one falls completely while the other uses their feet to hold on! It was insane! Absolutely mental!


The one who fell completely, holds their partner’s hand for life! At this point my jaw is dropped, I cannot eat anymore of the snacks I bought, and everyone who did not show missed something beyond words. A man walks out out nowhere and walks two lions around the fire ring with leashes it looked like. He drops the leashes and the lions walk themselves, the scene was amazing. As the show went on more people came out to perform crazy stunts. From people juggling axes, knives, and other dangerous objects to contortionists who twisted into unbelievable positions. They even formed a human bridge! It was all mind blowing! When the final act went on and finished, the lights went out then came back like before the show started. The show was over, it was a little depressing, I wanted more. So I decided to go back the next night, I just wanted to have another great experience. When I went home my Dad asked me how it went.

“It was amazing! Like nothing I’d ever seen anywhere!” I was nearly yelling, he just laughed and smiled.

“That’s great! I used to love the carnival, it would be nice to get a day off to see it again.” He told me, he had to go to work the next day so I didn’t bring up my plans. Sleeping that night was hard, almost impossible, but I did it. I woke up earlier than early, so I dressed up over and over, had breakfast, played video games until noon then ate lunch. I spent every second doing anything but thinking of the carnival. Then when it was time to leave, Dad was gone already so I ran out the door. I sprinted all the way to the carnival, needing another fix of greatness. But, when I got there and got inside it was different. It was less magical than the night before, I expected to be amazed all over, but I wasn’t. The shows were fun, a little different, but not as magical, not as unbelievable. The Carousel was just a spinning circle with horses, everything fell apart. It just wasn’t as amazing as I expected, it lost some kind of value. I went home disappointed with everything, I got home a little before Dad made it back. He asked me how my day was.

“It was alright.” I told him, not wanting to go into details.

“You went back to the carnival didn’t you?” He asked, it felt like he already knew.

“I used to go all the time, but the first time was the best, There was something about it that was unlike the other times. I guess it just lost value, once you’ve experienced something it just loses value. Some people can love something over and over and never lose the feeling, most can’t though. I guess we just can’t, but hey, the first time was amazing right? So just forget that one time. If you do that, the magic is never lost.” It was like the essay by Percy Walker I had read in an English class said, “he would have done better to [have kept] it in his pocket and shown it now and then to strangers”. I now know what he meant, if we as a society keep using something, it makes it less valuable. It takes away the magic of that item. But, if we forget that first time over and over, we can always have an amazing experience.

                    Now you may be thinking, ‘I wonder what she did with her life. What became of Alia’.  That sort of thing, well now I write this book, about my life hoping to for the young and clean minds to learn and understand life better. The carnival was but one step in my understanding, understanding that if something is expected to be of certain caliber and fails; people are disappointed. If something is seen daily, it becomes average, a normal aspect of life. This applies to many things, like the first time I danced with the moon and shadows. I don’t mean this literally, as that is impossible, nobody can dance with the moon in reality, it’s a very large lunar object.

Well, after graduation of high school I went to college. Mostly to further my understanding of life and learn to better my abilities. I had an assignment that took me all the way to Venice, a very beautiful and old city. I was hired by some company, I forgot now who they were. But, they wanted to show the world in a different view, show the people the creature they had lost. And my uniqueness landed me the job, as soon as I agreed and signed their legal papers. I essentially promised to deliver them something unique and grand, something not everyone sees everyday; so I went to Venice. The thing I was supposed to make for them could be anything, a paper, travel brochure; anything they could use. The only requirement besides something they could use to gain popularity, was to be something peculiar. I packed up my suitcase with a multitude of clothes to ensure I had enough for my stay, I had no set duration, just a mission. And I had requested money in advance, to make sure I had extra money to spend if needed, after all Italy is far away and a strange land to me. The company had put me in contact with a family that was originally from the United States, which made my stay much easier. I could go on and on about the few months I had stayed in Venice, Italy. I could tell you about the amazing sights, the magnificent food, and so very much I loved about the place. But, I am limited on time and such, and wouldn’t want to miss the point. I had an idea one night as I stared up at the moon. I was in a beautiful area, it was one of the canal strips. There was shops up and down, beautiful houses and apartment complexes, and of course the canal itself with lights everywhere. I looked up at the moon, it’s luminescent beauty made my heart glow. I took out my camera from the bag I had brought to hold my things in as I walked around trying to find something to use for my project. A man had walked by so I asked him if he would hold and record for me. I know, I know, what a stupid thing to do, but in that moment; nothing mattered to me. It was as if the stars had aligned in my favor and the stars danced for me. It was like everything in the world had blurred out, and the only thing I could focus on was this boardwalk of beautiful lights and architecture and the moon. I told the man to record and to give focus on the moon especially and he waved, I started slowly swaying side to side, trying to build some form of momentum for my creativity. I wasn’t sure how strange dancing at night under the moon was, but it made me and the man smile. Then every move I made became greater and broader, more unique. I danced and danced to my heart’s content, there was no music in reality, but in my head the most elegant symphony was playing. Every step, every sway, the music grew louder and louder. It was one of the most memorable events in my life. I had taken the camera back and thanked the man, then I went back to the family’s home, the one I once again was staying with. I flipped open my laptop, and inserted the SD card from my camera. Excitement was insane, my mind didn’t feel like it could handle anymore. Once the laptop booted up, my hands flew across the keyboard typing in my password. I put my video of me dancing on the computer and put it in a film editing program. And when I saw what was recorded I was amazed, dumbfounded at how striking the scene was. The darkness had caused it to be a near silhouette dance, there was me dancing but all you could see was my shadow outline, then you had the brilliant moon looming overhead. It was single handedly my best work. I made my few adjustments to make it beyond words, then I sent it via email to the company’s CEO who wanted it sent to her. I had went to bed and dreamed of getting an email that would make my work victorious. When I checked my email though, I had an email but it wasn’t happy.


Dear, Alia

I’m sorry to inform you that you did not interpret the task handed you correctly. We wanted something different and unique, not a dancing video of a shadow and the moon. This was not what we were looking for, and you will be unassigned from this job immediately. As for the funds we had given you in advance with faith in your abilities, keep it as you had wasted your time as well.

My heart sank, but there was something I obtained from the experience. I was given a gift from the moon and shadows, I received a memory and experience I will never have again. At least not as long as I remember it as vividly as I do even now four years later. I had failed the company’s expectations, but I was given something that money could never buy. And the video wasn’t a complete waste, I uploaded it to YouTube and it went viral by the next day. I had made the used song and everything, so I put ads on it and made more money than the company would have given me. A funny thing to note is that the company wanted me back to do more ‘moon dancing’ after I had hit a million views. I politely refused, then the most mind blowing thing happened. I went back to the same spot that night to hopefully forget about that moment with the moon and shadows. I wanted to simply relive the past, and many others wanted to experience it. I watched in shock that there was a ton of people trying to dance with the moon and shadows. I could not believe I started a trend of any kind, and people loved it. Unfortunately for me, I couldn’t forget that night at all. It was such a vivid memory that I don’t think I’ll ever forget it. Which brings me to the point of this story, there is some memories, some things; that you can’t forget. And we should call them core experiences, as they make up the majority of who we are. And just like Percy Walker had said in his essay “The Loss Of The Creature”,

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