“Whew!” Patty exclaimed to herself, leaning against an old wooden trailer.
She wiped sweat mixed with grease paint from her forehead. She was motionless for a moment, breathing in the warm July air. Her thoughts took her to someplace else, a magic place she hadn’t seen since her childhood. She daydreamed about a place with rolling hills, cobblestone streets and a sparkling body of water that could be seen from miles away.
I’d rather be there. Any place is better than here, she thought to herself.
Whenever she had a stressful day (lately she’d had a lot of them), she thought back to that weekend when she was seven. Her father had decided that he and Patty needed to take a well-deserved weekend off. Since they happened to be in the area anyway, he took her to the city by the bay: San Francisco. The hotel was a one and a half star at best, but Patty didn’t notice. If she had noticed, she wouldn’t have cared. To her, the city was magical. Twenty years later, it was still the happiest weekend of her life.
A few years after that dreamy road trip, Patty’s younger cousin, Alison, had come to live with them. The decision for Alison to live with them came after a horrible car crash that killed her parents. Patty had been all of fourteen when Alison arrived. Patty’s own mother had died at child birth, something she had always felt guilty about, so she could relate to Alison’s pain. She doted on the fragile girl like a younger sister. The two girls grew up working in the Kaleidoscope Traveling Circus. Patty’s father, Roger, helped manage the circus with his lifelong mentor, Bill “Pops” Russell. Patty had always meant to leave, to carry on with her own life, but every time she tried, she couldn’t bear the thought of leaving her family and friends behind. She imagined them being lost without her, needing help, or falling on hard times.
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