I originally shared this piece of flash fiction on 27 July last year; it was inspired by an old news article about children who were given to a circus doctor after their parents could no longer care for them. I’m sharing this story again for Fandango’s Friday Flashback.
There were five of them, Victor with feathers for hair and a toothy smile, Agnes with skin white as milk, Philippa whose footsteps couldn’t be heard, and then of course Emil and Oliver.
Emil could be a beast, and Oliver—well, he was the worst of them, and also the baby.
It was Oliver’s day to be paraded in front of the crowds. People laughed as their held their ear protectors over their ears. They laughed some more as they dropped their payment in the box and turned into the passage between the tents toward the other shows.
But Oliver was not done screaming. He opened his mouth again and screamed as hard as he could. Crawley, their keeper, flew backward and landed in a hay bale. The children’s hard-earned money scattered.
“I think his ears are bleeding,” Agnes whispered.
“Serves him right,” said Victor.
“He’s going to be very angry this time.”
They glanced at Oliver and smiled. The little boy grinned back.
“Well, when he’s locked us up we can prepare our plan of escape,” said Agnes.
The five children looked at each other. It was time.