You walk into a circus tent and pitch darkness. Tiny lights here and there almost light your way. You grope around in the dark, following twisting corridors until you have no idea how long you’ve been inside or which direction you’re heading. Finally, you come to some fabric that feels like velvet. As you brush it aside, the space beyond is filled with light.
Your writing prompt: As your eyes adjust to the light, what do you see?
She sat on the park bench, picking nervously at the skirt of her blue dress. She had no idea where she was or who she was. She brushed her hand over her long, platinum blond hair, feeling somehow that it didn’t belong to her.
Sister Natalie watched from her window as the girl sat on the bench for an hour. She checked back two hours later. Then three. When dinner time came she approached the girl, asking her if she needed any help.
The girl startled, raising her hand to cover her mouth. She tried to form a word. Her voice came out squeaky, unused. “Help.”
Sister Natalie offered a hand, which the girl looked at in confusion. “Come with me, child. We’ll have dinner and figure out what to do next.”
The girl followed Sister and began the first step of a brand new life. The Sisters decided to take the girl, whom they gauged to be around 17 years old, into the orphanage for a year. In that year they named her “Tatiana,” confirmed that no one in their town or any neighboring towns knew who she was, taught her to speak and write in English, along with all the basic skills she needed to get a job when she turned 18. It was a busy year. Tatiana had no memory of any past before she sat down on that bench.
Soon after she turned 18, Tatiana presented herself to the local department store for a job as a clerk. The fumbling store owner hired the tall, lithe, graceful, gorgeous, blue-eyed blond the same day.
William’s mother insisted that he come with her to Mellman’s Department Store to pick out a suit for her sister’s wedding. When he laid eyes on Tatiana, and she on him, their fate was sealed. They married amidst protests of “Too fast,” “the girl has no family, she could be anyone.”
Bill and Tati enjoyed every moment of their lives together. Especially when the circus came to town. “White Tiger Enterprises” would stay for as many as three days when they came through town. Tati attended every night. She was mesmerized, energized, and thrilled by the white tigers in the big tent.
The years passed. Bill and Tati raised four healthy children while they ran their plumbing business together. They retired and handed the business over to their children, who eventually handed it over to their own children. Bill lived to hold his eighth great-grandchild before they said their final goodbyes to him.
The circus was coming to town this weekend. Tati couldn’t find any family to go with her. They were bored with seeing the same entertainment each year. Tati went alone. As always, she felt right at home at the circus. She explored with a new freedom this time because there wasn’t anywhere she needed to be, or anything she had to do.
The big tent called to her, though the circus was closed and silent. She wandered in, continuing even when it got darker and darker in the tent. It was so dark she could hardly see her own hands. She wandered timelessly, aimlessly, feeling for anything that resembled a way out. Finally her hands touched a velvet drape. Pushing it aside, she was blinded by the harsh, bright light.
The white tigers stood together, on two legs, clapping for her. Welcoming her. Stepping over the threshold, her memories came rushing back. Her desire to experience a human life. To live in one place year after year. To love, as she saw couples love in the audiences in front of her. Her fellow tigers asked if it was everything she had wanted it to be. It was all of that, and more. She had one final concern before she shifted back into her true form. Her family must not be left with a mystery. The tigers left her former shell in the tent. She had lived long. Her family could mourn her.
Tati’s children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren attended the circus each year after that in memory of her love for the white tigers. Tatiana watched them from inside the arena, her tail twitching happily.