Henry ran up the steps of the front porch nearly knocking over Ms. Butterman as he pushed through the front screen door of Green & Fields Home for Boys. He could hear her exclaim in exasperation but he fled the sounds of her voice bringing his attention to what he needed to do.
The circus was coming. He would need to return home.
He was normally out of town before the circus arrived, but this time was different. It was shear luck he happened to be in the store when news of the circus coming to town was announced. He recognized the Herald as soon as he saw him. It was him after all, but when he was older. He smiled slightly. The Herald was lively, young, and charming and very animated while he painted pictures of the circus and its acts with his words.
‘Nothing can compare! Marvels beyond words!’ the Herald had crooned.
He was mesmerizing in his shabby chick garb and no one could look away. Henry could almost swear he actually saw faint images of circus performers floating in the air above him. He had left the gathering trying not to draw attention.
Now in the small confines of his shared room he paced back and forth wondering what he should do. In all his time on the run he’d never chanced upon the Herald. The chances of it happening were significant and perhaps spoke of things he didn’t want to consider. Was the Ringmaster already here? Was his uncle perhaps walking through the town? It’d be a slight breach of protocol, but not unprecedented.
Henry shook his head to rid it of the disturbing thoughts and ran his hand through his brown hair.
No. If the Ringmaster were near, he’d know. Right?
‘Right?!’ he said aloud.
Henry caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. His lean frame was clothed in baggy brown corduroys, navy blue vest and an untucked white shirt. He quickly tucked it in. He needed more time to find the Music Man and hopefully a cure for his ailing mother. When he last saw her he was in The Meadow silently watching her sleeping form. It was then that he decided to split himself to go find the Music Man, his biological father. He had left his true self there taking on a younger form of himself for this journey. He had been close many times to finding the Music Man in the other cities, but only recently got the lead he needed from one of the other boys in the home. The Music Man was heading to the town of Betheny.
‘I can’t go home! Not now!’ he exclaimed.
‘What are you going on about?’
Henry turned to see Anthony, his roommate, walking into the room.
‘Nothing.’ Henry replied.
‘So. You going?’ he asked.
‘Oh come on...it’s all over the town. The Jackman Brothers Circus is coming to town. It’s all everyone is talking about. Ms. Butterman is going to see if she can get a group discount for all of us to go while they’re here.’
Henry nodded. ‘Sure. I guess...’
Anthony cocked his head forcing his unruly blond hair to do likewise. He came closer. ‘You alright? You look...I don’t know...weird.’
Henry frowned. ‘I’m fine...’
Anthony whistled low. ‘What?’ Henry asked.
‘You know...I was in the diner when the guy spreading the word about the circus came in...Just noticing that in the right light you could pass for his brother.’
Henry’s eyes widened, but he quickly turned away and gazed out the window.
‘I don’t have a brother.’