Ruth Mattison

A Memory Healed

A dwarf stands at the entrance to the circus tent collecting tickets. His large hands sweat as he holds the greasy stubs.  He is glad that it is nighttime.  During the day the sunlight hurts his eyes and balloons cause an unexplained anxiety.  Now the fairground is beautiful – the darkness hides the grime and the faded elegance.  The fairy lights give everything an air of magic and mystery.

He watches the crowd pass by.  It is noisy and pressing but the odd person catches his eye.  He sees a beautiful young blonde woman, weeping.  His heart contracts in sympathy.  He understands sorrow and wonders what could have upset her.  Part of him considers abandoning his post at the entrance of the tent to follow her.  He feels uneasy – something is not right.  His long experience of watching life from the sidelines has given him a sixth sense when something is wrong.  He vacillates because he knows that he is old and deformed.  She would probably run away from him and call for help. He bites his lip indecisively.

Suddenly the lights go out. The unaccustomed darkness leaves him blinded and he hears the screams of frightened people.  He knows instantly what to do.  There is a generator behind the tent.  Once turned on it will provide some light to the surrounding area.  He slips away from the doorway and edges his way around the tent, stepping carefully over the guy ropes.  His foot stumbles over something soft and unresisting.  He reaches down and feels clammy skin and a slender body.  To his distress he realizes that it is a young child.  As he bends over, searching the darkness for clues the lights suddenly come back on.

He sees the gash in the child’s head and reaches into his back pocket to retrieve the lucky charm he always carries with him.  He wipes the blood from her cheek with a red striped baby grow. It is the only momento he has that proves he too once had a child.  He remembers the horror of losing her and the greater horror of finding her lifeless form still clutching a balloon in her tiny hand. He puts aside his memories and focuses on helping the living.  Gently he lifts the girl from the ground.  She opens her eyes and looks at him with confusion.

She shows no fear only acceptance that he is there to help. He smiles at her and carries her to the first aid caravan around the corner.  A paramedic looks at her with concern and leans forward to take her.  As the dwarf turns away to retreat back into anonymity of the fairground night the beautiful young woman he had noticed earlier runs down the caravan steps and grabbing hold of the child, sobs with relief.  The child, back in her mother’s arms, also starts to cry.

As the dwarf explains what happened the young woman holds him in a three way embrace and kisses his furrowed cheek with gratitude.

“Thanks – you found my child.  I’ll never forget you”.
– April 2009


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