Days had passed and nothing from Aleck. On one hand, I was almost fine with that since I was able to stay at the circus for a while, but on the other hand I longed to see Sue again. We had never been separated for this long before. I felt so alone even though all the circus members treated me like I was part of the family. I still felt oh so lonely, but I didn’t want to show it, I didn’t want to upset anyone, especially Molly, she had been so nice to me.
Tonight was my performance. I was sitting on a chair in front of a mirror while Molly was fixing up my hair and makeup. My face and neck were coated in white powder. It made my skin look like porcelain. I could have been mistaken for one of my dolls back at home.
Molly applied bright red blush on my cheeks, and drew a tiny bird around my eye. The final touch was a stroke of red across my mouth, making my lips fuller. Molly had also pulled my hair back and clipped in some colorful hairpins and ribbons. She was currently brushing some strands as I watched her do it in the mirror.
“Hey, you daydreaming again?” Molly asked suddenly.
“Oh, guess I was, sorry. Did you say something?”
“Yeah, I asked if you were excited about tonight.”
“Of course,” I said.
“Excellent! I’m excited too.” Molly winked. “You’ll do great.”
“Mmmm. . .” I nodded. “I wish Sue was here to see.”
“Let’s hope that she appears to see your performance.”
I smiled. “That’ll be nice. . .”
“Mmm-hmm, and. . .there! Look, you look so beautiful!”
I looked closely into the mirror. “Thank you. I had never worn this much makeup, but it’s nice.” I said, lightly touching my face. I got some powder on my fingertips.
“We must show everyone—hey, Naomi!” Molly waved once Naomi entered the dressing room. She had beads strung up in her hair, and necklaces hanging from her neck.
“Oh, Molly, I think you put too much makeup on her.” Naomi clicked her tongue in disapproval.
“No, it’s just enough,” Molly said.
Naomi frowned but shook it off. “If you say so. . .Sophie, what do you think?”
“I think Molly did a wonderful job,” I said.
“Well, alright. . .when are you going?”
“In thirty minutes!” Molly answered for me.
Naomi gave me somewhat of a worried look. “Are you ready, Sophie?”
I nodded, though I wasn’t too sure of it. Molly and Roxanne were going to be with me, so if anything went wrong, they would be there to help. But. . .
“She’s ready indeed!” Molly remarked. “We’ve been practicing every day and Sophie is perfect!”
Naomi crossed her arms assertively and huffed. I was sure she was going to throw a fit at Molly, but her kind eyes said otherwise. There was concern in those eyes, but also a look of understanding. I was going to be doing this performance and I would have Molly and Roxanne with me. It would be fine, I wanted to tell myself that. And maybe. . .just maybe. . .Sue appeared too and happened to watch my performance.
Naomi started for the doorway. “It’s almost time for Ashton and I to go on,” she said. “I’m not sure if I’ll see you again before your performance. But just in case, good luck, Sophie.”
“Thank you,” I said.
Naomi’s kind eyes softened and I was sure they were sparkling with tears, or perhaps it was the candle lights that gave that illusion. She nodded and wandered off, and the smell of her perfume followed.
“It’s almost your time to shine! You ready?” Molly asked me as we stood at the platform. I looked over the platform, the amphitheater was several feet below us. The crowd’s applause rang in my ears and the bright lights of the lanterns twinkled like stars. My head rocked, I was getting dizzy looking down for so long.
“Then it’s show time!” Molly cheered. She clicked on her parasol and it sprung out like a flower bud. “We’ll go down together, get your parasol ready, on three!”
“One. . .two. . .”
“I don’t know if—”
“Three! Open your parasol!”
“Wh—what!?” I scrambled to open my parasol just as Molly took my hand and yanked me forward. When we dropped off, I managed to open the parasol. Instead of falling, we ended up drifting downward. Still, I held on to the parasol for dear life while Molly was giggling.
“It’s alright, Soph, I got you,” she assured me. “Look, there’s Roxanne!” Molly pointed at Roxanne who had entered the amphitheater. She got on her hind legs and raised up her trunk. Everyone clapped, but it wasn’t just for her, it was for us as we continued to drift like the bits of a dandelion. Roxanne got down on all fours and we finally got on her back. Molly waited for the crowd’s cheers to die down before she said,
“Thank you so much! You are a wonderful, wonderful audience! Tonight, we have a new performer. Our lil’ ‘Elephant Dancer’: Sophie!”
The crowd cheered once more and I blushed, never have I had so much attention thrown at me at once. I covered my heating face, it was embarrassing, what if I messed up? What if I tripped off Roxanne?
“This is Sophie’s first ever performance, so please be kind!” Molly added. “Now, let the dance begin!” Molly waved her parasol around and beckoned me to join in. I nodded and mimicked Molly’s moves. We were like Ashton and Naomi, but our dance was more casual and simple. We spun and waved at the crowd who were instantly in awe. I was surprised that they were enjoying it. It was only a simple dance, but I guessed dancing on top of an elephant was rather intriguing.
Halfway through our performance, the audience tossed rose petals in the air and Roxanne tried catching some with her trunk. However, one petal flew into her trunk and she sneezed so loudly that Molly and I almost toppled over.
“Ah!” I reached for Molly’s hand and she pulled me up. I placed a hand over my beating heart and Molly patted my back.
“We’re good, folks!” Molly assured.
The audience clapped and continued to clap for the rest of the performance. Everyone was so delightful, it gave me a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. I guess this wasn’t so bad after all. . .
“That was brilliant!” Molly exclaimed. We were back in the dressing room; I was wiping off the makeup in front of the mirror.
“Yes, it really was nice,” I agreed.
“Everyone loved you! They couldn’t get enough! I bet you’re gonna get a lot of secret admirers.” Molly nudged my arm and laughed.
“Really?” I tripped over my words.
“Most certainly!” Molly said. “But if you have any trouble finding the right guy, I’m the right gal who can help you with that.” She winked at me. I could only let out a small ‘oh’ before Hertha entered the room. She had on a dark green dress with tiny, silver gems stitched into the fabric. She wore such expensive looking clothes.
“Congratulations on your first performance,” Hertha said. “You and Molly were brilliant, although, I would like the next performance to be only you.”
“Why yes. I want to see how you are solo,” Hertha insisted. “It shouldn’t be that hard for you, you’re a beautiful dancer.”
“Thank you.” It was all I could say. I didn’t want to be rude and tell Hertha that I didn’t want to do this alone. But since I did feel comfortable dancing with a crowd watching. I didn’t expect going solo to be that bad. Roxanne would still be with me. Yes, I’ll be alright.
“Good. Ah, and before I forget, on the night of your next performance, I’d like to invite you for dinner. Are you interested?”
“Yes, indeed,” I said.
“I’m happy to hear.” There was that glisten in her eyes again. “Goodnight.”