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Behind the Pantomime (Flashback)

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Behind the Pantomime (Flashback) Empty Behind the Pantomime (Flashback)

Post by Aubrey Pomme Bouffónt Sun Sep 05, 2021 11:06 pm

Behind the Pantomime (Flashback) Posting-temp2-copy




A small child, no greater than ten years of age, caught a partial view of her flushed complexion in the great mirror her mother had employed to satisfy her own vanity, a fine mirror lined by brilliant, spherical lights. Its luminosity cast an unbearable glow over the tyke’s scrawny features, her sensitive eyes squinting under the impeccable glare of every bulb. “I’m a plain bagel in a world of sprinkled donuts. But when I look at myself in the mirror,” She said, cheerfully, “I see a unicorn. A space unicorn."

The brightness blinded her only temporarily, and for a short time spots of sickly green danced across her vision. It didn’t affect her optimism nor her hearing, for the melodious trill of her mother’s gentle laughter graced her ears and caused her to quietly wonder why. “Vera Jayne Walden, what will you have me be every time you look my way?” She had already worn her dress, full of frills and curiosities. It was frivolously white and flattered the silly hat upon her head. Vera would have admired her outfit some more, but there was a problem.

“To be continued,” her daughter mumbled, far too quickly. She didn't give a more elaborate answer because she couldn't. She had never stared at anything quite so intensely as to fry her retinas, and the regret lingered only after having to quite literally feel her way to the door. She didn’t even get past that on her own, and imminent smothering overwhelmed the flailing twig. The layers of her mother’s dress pressed against her and absorbed her on the way out. The woman was just leaving and hadn’t realized her dress practically swallowed her child. The trailer shivered and trembled with each troubling step, the muffled cries of the youth's most unbecoming and inspiring concern.

They emerged from their stuffy trailer, Vera and Elladora, nearly falling over themselves, like dominoes. The girl was the only one of the two to fall over successfully from the sheer force of being dragged out by nothing but excessive fabrics and tight spaces, and she gasped, as if having merely escaped the very jaws of death. It didn’t take long for Vera to dust herself off, regaining her sight while looking down at her full-bodied spandex with a slight smile. She seemed closer to becoming a rainbow rather than a unicorn. Mother, on the other hand, had no time to inspect the damage and was rushed to the big top by her fellow performers, whisking their beloved star away.

Vera waved after her. “I’ll be there in forty minutes! Break a leg, mom!” the colorful noodle exclaimed, bouncing on the balls of her feet with glee.

The woman’s grin widened almost instantly and could not help it. Her enthusiasm gave her the necessary push to actually want to perform splendidly.

Elladora eventually found herself under the scrutiny of an audience expecting nothing but the best and showing everything but a frown on her face. Her husband’s brother, who had written this song composed of nonsense, was one of his most treasured works and her voice only served to perfect it. Her singing would seem strangely ethereal to the crowd, and so would the mind boggling contortionists and daring acrobats as well.

At last their masterpiece came to an end, gone as quickly and soundlessly as a summer breeze. The silence was remedied with thunderous applause and genuine praise. Still? There was something off. A certain someone failed to arrive during the passing hour. She clasped her hands together dramatically and surveyed her surroundings, her crew, with some discreteness. Everyone she knew had been present for the show, all except one and she was nowhere to be found. She was worried. She knew not of a time when Vera wasn't around to finish them off with a tumbling or balancing act.

The circus was roaring with adoration, reverberation, and the prominent swell of music sounding yet another successful performance. But of course her miniature opposite, Vera, would not be around to take it all in. Her girl had been doing some reading lately with great interest, and this love of literature had been building since she first laid eyes on her growing collection, flourishing steadily and quietly - like a cancer unchecked. She was lost to reality and blissfully unaware of the negligence she plagued her family and friends with.

What the bookworm and none of them knew, and never could have imagined as being secretive, was that a few trailers down and somewhat close by her own was a verbal contract in the works.

Jewels were moved on a wooden table belonging to the ringmaster in the privacy of his makeshift home. They slid smoothly over the polished surface but found sanctuary in his tentative grasp. Percival R. Walden, her lanky, vibrantly dressed host, appeared to challenge her with his eyes, giving her a practiced smile that feigned courtesy. He pondered and considered the generous offer but not without hesitation, ignoring the constant fidgeting of the woman in front of him, focusing on the beneficial ramifications of her request. Percival shook his head after the stagnant pause; his approval was slipping through her fingers like water and she knew it.

The woman shot up and walked around the table. Her hands were curled into the claws of despair. She was colored half-mad and everything about her demanded his compassion. “Take the boy,” she pressed the young man, forgetting set boundaries. Her eyes were sizable but vague; she was gifting him with more jewels, desiring personal freedom over her own child. No, he wasn’t a child. She likened him to a monster she bore selflessly until now.

This sudden change appeared to pique some kind of morbid interest. His mirthless grin sagged as if to reassess her plea. “He will need to be homeschooled. I need compensation for my future troubles. I’ve already a niece and a nephew to look after. I’m sure you understand.” Percival responded, too casually for her liking. She gave him every bit of money she had.

That sealed the deal for him. “We might just have an opening! Now, where did you say you left him last? I’m in need of a refresher.”






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Post by Jester Mon Sep 06, 2021 2:07 pm


As the carriage travelled along the dirt path, bumping along against the rough earthen roads that lead slightly out of the way of town. A young boy, bounced away excitedly, eager for the experience that awaited him. So long had he begged his mama to bring him, and finally, she had heeded his request. It was to be a day of dream and delight, a long-awaited one, well needed by the Bouffónt family after the difficult few years they had endured. The red-headed child, peered out of the carriage window, his golden eyes wide with awe as it came into view. The bright lights, the animated crowds, the atmosphere that surrounded the behemoth-sized tent. The carriage would come to a stop, indicated that they were free to climb out. The boy would unstrap himself eagerly, hurrying out as quickly as he could. Running boisterously towards the Circus in his tan cargo shorts, matching braces and white shirt. A burgundy bow tie around his neck, and burgundy red shoes. One of his fanciest outfits picked out by his mother for a special occasion.

"Stay close Jesse!" His mother would call after him, her voice was tired, slightly strained. She would pay the driver, before following after him. Unlike her son, Linda Bouffónt did not share the same enthusiasm over their little trip. If anything, a dark cloud seemed to hang over the woman, her eyes carried heavy bags, her hair somewhat unruly, pulled back into a bun slightly too tight. Unlike her son, she wasn't nearly as well-dressed, she wore a black dress and black ballet shoes, with a grey mac jacket draped over her shoulders.

She seemed almost demure in nature, one might assume she was always like this. But they would be wrong, for there was a time when the auburn-haired woman was a vibrant, confident individual; a social butterfly, well-known and well-liked. Yet much had changed as a late, even Jesse could see that his mother had retreated into a shell of sorts. But that was okay, even if she was a little quieter and less playful.

She was still his dear mama.


Linda would shuffle forward, catching up to her son just as they met the swarm that was the crowd. Placing her hand on his shoulder so as to not separate as they merged with the other patrons that were entering the tent. Ms Bouffónt reached into her handbag, preparing the tickets she had pre-paid for so that they could fast-track to their seats rather than wait to purchase on the door. It wasn't long after entering, that the two found their seats, Jesse shuffled to the edge of his chair. Leaning as far out as his mother would permit him, lost in immediate awe of the place. As the crowds finally settled into place, the lights would dim, quietened the hum of the audience as they watched with anticipation. A spotlight would appear, falling on a single fellow, and so the show would begin.

Jesse would barely blink as he watched, not wanting to miss a second of it. It was unlike anything he could have ever imagined, and his reactions were as fitting as the circus had intended them to be. He would laugh, he would gasp, he would clap profusely. All the while, his mother stared ahead, her face stoic, and her eyes empty. The show would reach another crescendo, and with the crowd Jester would jump up from his seat, applauding exuberantly, cheering and whistling excitedly. His heart racing from the experience, the euphoria, the energy. It was just so fun, by far the most enjoyable thing he'd ever experienced. He looked at his mother, his bright eyes gleaming happily, he was so grateful to her, for bringing them here. He went to hug her, but his smile would falter. As his golden eyes fell on her face, she looked cold, unresponsive. She did not welcome the hug, instead, she would reach for his wrist, standing herself, she would pull him from his seat.

"Mama?" He would ask, as she dragged him along, he didn't resist at first. But as her grip tightened around his wrist to an almost vicelike nature, he would begin to feel unsure. "Mama, you're hurting me!?" He said, offering resistance to her dragging him as she led him down the stairs of the audience seating area. She would reach the base, moving along the ring of the circus floor, he glanced around. Trying to figure out where she was taking him, perhaps this was a surprise, had she arranged for them to meet the performers one to one. That was an exciting prospect, yet it didn't explain why she was being so forceful about it. He resisted a little more, causing her to round on him. "Enough Jesse, come quietly or I will belt you in front of everyone here." He would stiffen slightly, realising how mad Mama really was. She rarely threatened him with the belt, that was Papa's thing. He quietly resigned himself, following her without further hesitation.

They moved into the backstage area of the Circus, meeting little resistance as they made their way through. They arrived at a trailer, Ms Bouffónt would knock briefly before turning to Jesse, "Wait here." Jesse would hesitate before nodding, watching as his mother would enter the trailer, shutting the door behind her. He pressed his ear against the door, trying to catch the conversation that ensued. He would hear his mother talking, and the clinking of jewels as they thudded on the table. After several minutes had passed, Jesse would hear their footsteps and move away from the trailer door. His mother would exit, followed by a man. He was very tall, taller than his father had been. Jesse would recognise his vibrant attire, his eyes growing wide with excitement as he realised he had come face to face with the ringmaster. He glanced between the man and his mother, the excitement quickly fading as he eyed her cold, broken gaze, immediately sensing something off.

His Mother would clear her throat, before addressing him in a serious tone. “Jesse, this is Mr Walden, he’ll be taking care of you. Be sure not to cause him any trouble.” Jesse blinked at her in confusion, unsure of what she meant. He would glance at the man, before looking back at his mother. As exciting as it was to meet the guy, what she had said didn’t make sense.

“But Mama, I already have you.” She would gulp, glancing to the ground. For a moment, she almost looked regretful, but that would fade, as her expression hardened once more. She returned her gaze to her son, continuing. “No, Jesse, Mama is going to go away, and Mr Walden will be in charge of you now.”  As the reality of what she was saying dawned, Jesse would shake his head.

“Mama, no, I don’t want you to go away. Please Mama, is it cause I was bad? Please, Mama, I’ll be good boy, I promise!” His voice would fill with panic and dread, he would step forward to embrace her, but she stepped back. Recoiling from his approach, the Ringmaster would place his hand on Jesse’s shoulder. Holding him in place and stopping him from approaching further.  Fear would begin to take over, the red-headed child face would contort into one of terror at the prospect of his mother abandonment settled in. “Mama, No please, I wanna go home with you. Mama!” She shook her head at him, her fists clenching in frustration.

“No, Jesse, you cannot. Mama can’t…Mama can’t do this anymore. I’ve had enough.” He voice would crack, as she said this. Her voice tinged layered with pain and fatigue. Like a woman who had simply endured too much, and could not long hold out under the strain. Broken. She pulled her gaze from him to the Ringmaster. “Goodbye, Mr Walden.”

“Thank you for your business, Ms Bouffónt, I assure you we’ll take excellent care of him” She nodded stiffly, taking a shaky breath, her eyes lowered to her son one last time.

“Goodbye, Jesse.” And that was it, no going back, not even an 'I love you', just a simple goodbye as she dragged her eyes from his. Eyes they shared, parting gazes once and for all. The boy's eyes widened further, fear and despair overwhelming him as he would watch his mother turn and walk away. Leaving him forever. He thrashed against the Ringmaster grasp, attempting desperately to escape his hold. Screaming after his mother, tears would begin to stream down his cheeks.


“MAMA! MAMA PLEASE! DON’T LEAVE ME! MAMA!”






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Post by Aubrey Pomme Bouffónt Mon Sep 06, 2021 3:31 pm

Behind the Pantomime (Flashback) Posting-temp2-copy





What he felt, especially after the mysterious woman took her leave, was pious contempt, as if he hadn’t profited from their unsavory arrangement. When the minor screamed, he stilled him with both hands, being mindful of the pressure he used to steady him. “You’ve got to pull yourself together.”

First he glanced at the door and saw himself caught in a precarious drought of good judgement. Jesse shouldn't have been abandoned and bought like sow; he should have enjoyed the circus and returned home with mother. They only housed rogues, the truly homeless and transformed them into better people. Then he peered into the heart of his dealings and something blinded him from the truth. some unknown wrench webbed in the cogs and gears of his mind.

The repentant ringmaster was white. His eyes of gold bulged from their sockets for only a second. Jesse was still being pressed into him, although Percival was growing increasingly unaware of just how tightly. It was as if he hadn't been able to register the fact that the little orphan was still grieving, maybe even screaming in pain. He wasn’t sure what of what do anymore, and if Jesse hadn’t stopped by then; Percival would brush his lips to his ear and whisper: “Please, be very quiet. I am trying to think. What would you be most suited for? You can’t be part of my fabulous troupe without serving a purpose. That is not good for morale.”

The door unexpectedly opened, and none too quietly either.

What’s gotten into you?” Elladora cried, and the distraught tone of her voice caused Vera to jump out of her bed just as she was winding down. "Have you forgotten your place out there? We were counting on you, Vera Jayne. Counting on you!”

“I missed it?” Vera asked incredulously, her serious question sounded more like a joke to her mother. Pink spread along her cheeks, and shame enveloped her like a blanket on fire.

“Are you deaf?” her mother scoffed.

“I,” Vera repeated, much more slowly, “missed it?”

“I heard you the first time, starlight.” Elladora’s voice softened.

“I should turn into sea foam. I'll be so ugly, everyone will confuse me for some kind of magical fart bubble.” She said, sadly.

Vera led her out of the trailer, so caught up in her moping that she didn’t even greet the caged animals or the rest of her family like she normally would. She could imagine their disappointment in her, but that was fine because she was already mad at herself. She hadn’t done it on purpose, she justified.

"Mommy, do you hear that?" she asked, blinked, and gasped. "I hear screaming." She moved further away from the cages and looked out at the trailers - but it wasn’t coming out of just any trailer. The noises were coming from Percival’s place. The voice was too shrill, too child-like, and too unrecognizable to belong to her uncle.

"That can't be right. We can't take in more," Elladora advised, carefully, "children."

"I know. My brother told me the rule was established after I was born. I guess 'cause I was an accident." Vera admitted, dully.

"What?" Elladora practically screamed herself.

"That's what the stork said when she saw me too." She mumbled, so carefree and oblivious to the scare she gave her. "It's no biggie."

There were many things Vera wasn’t sure of. She’d been sure of one thing from the moment she heard the cries: there was an instance of oddity in an otherwise normal day and she wanted to find out why. She was walking faster than most of the others, not slowing down for anyone or anything. Just when she was about to place her dainty foot on the step to announce her entrance, her uncle swung the door open, smiled, and saw, not just her, but the entire crew. They merely watched him, utterly perplexed and mystified.

He had adopted a cheery frame of mind while gliding his finger along the rail and descending the steps to meet the lot of them. “May I introduce you,” he said enthusiastically, his golden gaze gleaming with anticipation, “to the newest member of our family?” He twirled like a dancer and stopped only after he motioned to him with the hands of a magician. The dirt beneath his shoes rose for a moment and fluttered away.

This was one of those occasions. When the staff still hadn't processed his declaration, Vera took it upon herself to do something, which was to hide behind her stunned mother and wonder how a child greeted another child. One who wasn't just her older brother. She couldn't call him a bonehead. She didn't have a reason to, and she didn't know him well enough to express herself so casually.

"What's your name?" she asked, somewhat muffled, talking into her mother's back.

Percival appeared behind the boy, placed his hands on his shoulders again, then laughed at his niece. "Vera Jayne, I am so glad you asked! His name is Jes-"

"Uncle Percy, I was asking him," she reminded him sweetly, stepping around Elladora so he could have a better look at her, "not you."







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Post by Jester Mon Sep 06, 2021 3:37 pm



Devastation.

There was no better way to describe how Jesse felt as his mother's form disappeared from view, gone in a matter of moments. He struggled desperately under the man's grip, if he got away now he could catch up to her. If he ran fast enough, he could find her, convince her to change her mind, promise to be a good boy. She would forgive him, and they could go home, pretend this never happened. But the man's hands held him firmly, he heard words uttered to him, but they wouldn't sink it, he couldn't accept that this was his fate. His mother loved him, she wouldn't abandon him surely. He just couldn't understand what he'd done to deserve this, he knew there had been that but Mama knew that wasn't his fault, didn't she?

But the moments passed, and which each moment, the likelihood of him being able to reach her became slimmer. The fingers clinging tighter onto him pulling him close, the gentle brush of his lips grazed his lobe delicately, and soft words were whispered to him. Something about them caused the young boy to become still, there were not harsh or cruel words but there was something about them that caused the hairs on the back of the boy's neck to stand on end. He didn't struggle, an innate feeling inside him was telling him that if he did not settle himself, things would only be much, much worse.



So instead he just wept, eyes stinging as they streamed, snot running haphazardly. The young boy's fists clenched so tightly his knuckles turned white, and he found himself falling to the despair of his mother's grave betrayal. The moments that passed next were a blur for the young redhead, whether second passed or minutes, he couldn't tell. He felt like his world was falling apart and he was sinking into a daze. He couldn't imagine a worse moment to exist in, he felt numb, numb to everything but the pure relentless ache. He didn't notice when he was moved, steered by the man into the trailer. The door shut behind, as he continued to sob. He felt movement close in on him, suddenly the man who had restrained him was kneeling before him.

"Focus on your breathing, steady yourself." He instructed sharply, "Look at me." Jesse's golden eyes unblurred, focusing on the purple locked man in front of him. The man's yellow hues a reflection of his own, yet older and somewhat cold. There might have been an attempt at the portrayal of a sympathetic expression, but what Jesse saw was something else. Past that, to something darker, something more sinister in nature. The man would reach into his front pocket and pulled out a velvet burgundy handkerchief. "Breathe... Just breathe..." He whispered softly, Jesse tried, trying to follow the man's words, mostly because he had no other choice. What else could he do but listen to him? He was a lost chick without a mother hen. The ringmaster reached over with his handkerchief, wiping away the concoction of tears and phlegm that coated the boy's pitiful face. After the rough cleaning of Jesse's face, the handkerchief was folded up and tucked neatly away in the man's pocket once more.

There would be a moment where their eyes would meet, a silence filled the air, and Jester felt the urge to tremble once more. Then in the blink of an eye, the man stood, moving around the boy with Panthera-like grace. The air around the man shifted instantly, a warm smile painted onto his features, and in one fluid movement, he opened the door and descended on the onlookers. Jesse turned to face the door, following the man, because as unsure as he felt he didn't know what else to do.

Jesse's listened to his apparent introduction, he was calmer now, but this didn't change the misery he felt, the fear of not knowing what was going to happen next. There was also still the want he had to run to his mother, but it was beginning to sink in that she had not come back yet. She had left him, abandoned him, thrown him away like an old doll. What was that word he used? Family, the young boys eyes widened a fraction. Family...family... the word brought even more ache. Followed by the strained awkward silence that occurred as he was stared at by several pairs of boring and relentless eyes. His own eyes would draw downwards, staring at the stairs beneath him. His body trembling more and more with each passing second.

"What's your name?"

The voice was child-like, slightly girl-ish with a hint of friendly intrigue. He hesitated before looking up at her, she was a little younger than him. She was gazing at him with bright blue eyes, her expression one of pure adolescent curiosity. He stared back at her, his golden eyes tracing her face. The man addressed her as Vera Jayne, before attempting to tell her his name, only to be cut off by the child. Her voice sweet but by no means intimidated, there was no fear in her tone as she replied to her uncle. Jesse felt comforted by her actions, never had anyone wanted to know him, in fact, he couldn't remember the last time anyone had asked his name. His lips parted, he cleared his throat awkwardly, before attempting to answer her question.

"J-Jesse...Jesse Bou-"  His voice cracked, unable to finish the introduction, he glanced down once more.


~~~



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Post by Aubrey Pomme Bouffónt Mon Sep 06, 2021 3:48 pm

Behind the Pantomime (Flashback) Posting-temp2-copy





His emaciated niece, quickly before Percieval could get another word in, came around from behind her mother with an air of interest and desired that the words intended for her might be given through the unanticipated interloper’s own lips. Exuberantly captivated by the mental impression of a new addition to their growing troupe, Vera moved her eyes to her feet quickly to consider the next diplomatic rejoinder, and from that juncture there was the realization that her bony chicken feet were bare and a little on the dirty side. Her eyes grew wide as the fine ends of her purple began to elevate in tune with her ignominy. During her many travels she would never bother wearing shoes or slippers to protect them, and even when springing to the floor with the other performers in the face of the raw public, Vera never paid enough attention to them to mind so much as she did now.

But neither was she properly exposed to children close to her age nor did she have in her possession the time to consort with, for lack of a better word, outsiders. The now empty seatings that normally held up the gathered patrons were always filled with families and their progeny, but she always chanced a glance from afar, as they seemed elusory to her and virtually transcendental. The advancement from receptive to laconic was an unlooked for switch, which brought all her focus back on his gaunt face. No person could have been more baffled than Vera Jayne. “Jesse Boo?” she inquired to the boy just after he glanced down one more time. It wasn’t her dirty feet that offended him. It was probably in the way she said it that might have repulsed him. She dragged her toe along the dirt sheepishly and didn’t keep her thoughts from him. “I think that is crazy cool. You’re welcome to haunt Walden’s Cirque des Rêves any day. Better yet, how about forever?” Vera had always wanted a ghost for a friend. It showed.

The joint owner of Walden's Cirque de Rêves, Percival, had hitherto become increasingly aware of their inconvenienced faces, not just that of her niece’s, and he timed himself accordingly as she softened his personnel up with her gentle probing. He wasn’t a strikingly ingenious fella, but all through the first few maladroit seconds of her initiation had proved a worthwhile endorsement to his forthcoming elucidation, and gained an influence which he had not been expecting. “How sweet. Everything happens for a reason, but in moments like these I dare question what that reason was. His mother was not willing to make the sacrifices necessary so her son could have the life he naturally deserved. Abandonment is not a wound that will heal overnight, but it is my promise to you, little Jessie, that we will do our very best to make you feel at home.”

Elladora’s cardinal issue was the mental aplomb of the deserted boy, of whom she was awfully sorry for. Disowned by her own family for marrying outside of their tribe, deprived her of their love and support and caused her to eternally doubt her decision. Ashamed by her professedly cruel thoughts, making the pity she felt for Jesse all about her, she convinced herself that she was whole and adored the kin she had now. She loved her son, Alfare, and her unplanned daughter, Vera. She would learn to love the pitiful child and care for him when Percieval could not.

It didn’t look like she had to do much stepping in, however, because it was clear to see that the once mewling newcomer had become the instantaneous darling of the ringmaster. She always had a soft spot for Percy, wished to know constantly with the father of her children as to why his brother never had any children of his own. If asked to, she wouldn’t have been able to ever recall a time she found him dallying with the women he selectively employed. His polite refusals whenever it came to the opposite sex often left her wondering if he, perhaps, preferred men. But there was something she never questioned, and that was his uncanny ability to connect with the youth.

At the end of his profound proclamation he was given warm looks and even the occasional scoff, but Percy, though an attention hoarder and a flashy gentleman, soon learned how to prioritize his attention on the foundling and concerned himself little about what everyone else condoned or ridiculed when it came to his decision. “You don’t look like a Jesse. May I suggest something a little less drab to favor your extraordinary potential? You look more like a,” Elladora’s brother-in-law, also Vera’s uncle, said to the orphan in a pleasing voice, “Jester!”

Without much of the same bravery Vera exhibited before, which quite surprised her so greatly that she stopped talking in the same manner as the boy had earlier and stared at him in blank fascination as Percy bestowed upon him a brand new title. Her fourteen-year-old brother’s own astoundment was still taking shape, however, when he noticed her staring at them like she would a good movie and sprang at her like a lion, wrapping an arm around her to take her away. “The creeper has been quarantined! I repeat, the creeper has been quarantined. Don’t worry, Jester, you’re safe now. Let’s go, douchecake.” Cackled the all too ‘charming’ Alfare, adding unkindly, “You can’t go around turning people into stone with your butt-ugly face.” His bonny bronze skin and green hair were features he inherited from his mother, but his temperament was a creature of its own.

Vera Jayne was usually quick to change moods and squeal out juvenile atrocities, from her habit of always picking fights with Alafare, with the exception of now. As he was pulling her along, she incrementally relaxed her taut muscles and slavishly followed him with intervals of attempted marveling. She innocently glanced over her shoulder to regard the fiery-haired newcomer some more, when she easily put her hand behind her back and wiggled her right pinky finger to bid him a silent and a nearly private farewell.




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Behind the Pantomime (Flashback) Empty Re: Behind the Pantomime (Flashback)

Post by Jester Mon Sep 06, 2021 3:53 pm


The little girl's reiteration of his name would usher a rose-toned flush to his cheeks, embarrassed with his own inability to speak, but not so stirred that he could bring himself to correct her. The sentence that followed caused him to look up sharply, baffled by the adjective which she had chosen to describe his name. Cool? Never in his life had he ever used to word as a means to describe him, amongst the many terms that had been used, so little had been flattering in nature. His golden eyes for the briefest moments would flicker with something pleasant, and without a nod, to her question, he would nod. Haunting seemed like such a lonely venture, yet perhaps if there was company, it wouldn't be so bad. Maybe not forever, the boy still clinging to the hope of reuniting with his Mama as soon as he was able. A delusion beginning to form in the child's psyche, a hopeful dream, mechanically developing as a means to calm himself from the traumatic moment he had just endured. The theory that made the most sense to him. Mama just needed a holiday, yes that was it. This was just a travelling experience, and soon she would change her mind and return to collect him. Like a school trip, this wouldn't be forever.

So when the ringmaster spoke, Jesse did not heed his words, 'sacrifice', 'abandonment', there was inaccurate. They had to be, they were just saying them as a safety measure. Mama would be back. So he would say nothing, let them have their moment of pride and pity, it mattered not anymore. He didn't believe them anyway.

Mr Walden would speak up, declaring that his name was unsuitable for his appearance, the boy's eyes would grow doe-eyed, unable to understand her meaning. How did his name not fit? It was his was it not? It was the one thing his Papa had given him, the only thing he had left. Panic settled into the child for the briefest of moments, wondering if he would not only be stripped of his mother's company but of his name too. The with satisfied exuberance she would offer an alternative, a play on the letters in his name. A nickname. It was this that brought the boy to finally find his words.

"J-Jester? Like a clown..." He said softly, he glanced to the hands, his scrawny fingers fiddling with the strap of one of his braces, a small smile would form on his lips as he contemplated it. "I... like clowns." He said in a tone of quiet approval. Jester, that would be his name for now, just until his Mama came back. He liked it, the earlier feelings of sadness simmering away somewhat. He looked up once more, his eyes seeking out the girl, a curiosity sinking in. He wanted to ask her for a name, something he could call her to remember her by. But in a sudden outburst from a green-haired boy, swept the girl up and with a flurry of harsh words to the girl would carry her away. Jester looked on as she proceeded to shriek curses at him, using such flamboyant language that another smile would sneak its way onto his lips. She was an interesting girl, and out of everyone that had stared upon him since his traumatic arrival, she had been the only one that had made him feel... acceptable. He watched her pinky wiggling in the distance and he felt a tingle of childish delight, already subtlely anticipation his next run-in with the intriguing purple-haired child.


~A week later~


Sweat dripped down the boys face, or rather up it. Although that was a matter of perspective, at the present his body was turned upside down in a rather precarious attempt at practising his balance. His arms shook under the strain at he tried desperately to hold the weight of his body,  he could hear berating comments being made over and over again. Comments about straightening his form and engaging his core. He was trying, boy was he trying, but the days since his arrival at the circus had been much more strenuous than he'd expected. To be useful here, he needed to be trained, they needed to find the right fit for him. But even before that, he needed to work on his basic skills. Stamina, agility, balance and most of all, by far his most lacking asset, his confidence. It had quickly become clear that he had little belief in his own capabilities, a rather sturdy blockage in his journey to progression. Every day he'd gotten up before the crack of dawn to begin training with the other inhabitants of Cirque de Rêves, working his muscles much more than he was used to. A painful concoction of cardio and strength-training necessary in order to aid his physical capabilities for working here. There was also training focused on honing specific skills although this was minimal right now, apparently, there wasn't a lot he was cleared to do until he became physically fit enough to handle such tasks.

This did not mean respite for the child, there were many laborious jobs to be handled around the circus and when he was training, eating or sleeping, there was always something else for him to do. Whether it was aiding in preparing meals for the entire crew, cleaning dishes and the camp itself, aiding with laundry or even fixing various features of the show. Although he quite enjoyed the latter, especially mending the costumes or helping create props. He had always had a deep fascination with making things, not to mention a genuine natural talent for it. One thing that had been acknowledged was how compliant the child once, not the least bit disobedient no matter how harsh. He quietly listened and attempted to do better. It soon becomes clear that he was what one might expect of a boy in the prepubescent stages of his development.

As he felt his balance sway slightly, he adjusted his arm in an attempt to straighten his body once more. This, however, turned out to be an error on his part, as this sudden movement caused his arm to slip and buckle, from which his entire form would collapse in a haphazard pile on the dirt floor. He let out no pain cry, something he never did when hurt. But he did lay crumple for a moment, somewhat winded from the floor. After a moment, he would push himself up into a sitting position, rubbing his slightly bruised arm. After all, this hadn't been his first tumble this week.

~~~



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Behind the Pantomime (Flashback) Empty Re: Behind the Pantomime (Flashback)

Post by Aubrey Pomme Bouffónt Mon Sep 06, 2021 4:10 pm

Behind the Pantomime (Flashback) Posting-temp2-copy





There was something magical in rising before dawn. That calm before the storm. Everything was done in routine and everyone played their predestined role, but that was only after opening their eyes to a new day and taking in the quiet. But no one would tell before heading out what prayers they might have whispered or what tears they might have shed. The children were actually left alone as early hours went on, and at last they all wandered out to report their locations and began to engage in their designated task. They already knew what to do, and like all the adults there they had to throw their weight around if they wanted to continue being a viable member of the circus. Vera wore a tee shirt too big for her body over her dark jumpsuit, and she took with her a shovel that looked just as shabby as her appearance, all the time yawning while rubbing her eyes.

The rules were strict, long-lived, and never left much room for breathers. Pompelouse the Devilish died at forty from a heart attack some time ago, assisting one of his mates and fell into a hefty pile of elephant dung as a result; now Vera had become part of the meager cleanup crew during rotation and she supremely loathed it. But she might have especially missed him in spite of having herself a bigger load of work. Pomps had a well-meaning if not strange obsession with the many benefits of pachyderm excrement; more than one of them usually involving paper and coffee. “Where do you think he went, and is there enough coffee there?” she asked her shadow. She pretended that he was brewing his exotic coffee in a real kitchen, and he was surrounded by a calming glow, so far away from home and so happy. She didn’t like the taste of coffee or the Black Ivory he had always wanted to try but couldn’t; rather, she only genuinely wished for his happiness.

Reflecting heavily on his passing, Vera got a boot to the back for slacking by Madame de Splertini and staggered forward. She inadvertently dropped her shovel and did not have to wonder or look over her shoulder to know. She knew whose foot it was that knocked her over and there really was no use in ratting her out to her mother or father. Vera might have deserved it, her parents would have excused out of embarrassment or they would have profusely apologized on her behalf when she did not feel like bowing down. But little Walden had already done so in a way, sprawled upon the ground and mumbling an empty apology that was like music to the middle-aged woman’s ears.

The child was grinding her teeth and dreaming of how she wanting to kick the old bat right back when she heard her father enter the tent with a friend of his.Vera couldn’t afford a setback cutting into her training like the last time and having once been a no show was too great of a disappointment for them to bear another one, so she did not dare try to get even with Madame and rolled onto her back with a sigh that sounded more like one of pain than joy. But her father assumed she was attempting to pass the time idly, which didn’t surprise her terribly when he pressured her with a “get up” and told her to “stop fooling around”.

No matter how seemingly nice he said it, the pout still remained. “You’re so close to finishing, sweetheart. Don’t you want to see your new friend?” asked the child’s father, knowing that would give her the push she needed to get this shoveling done.

To think that she could see him again! She was so happy she picked herself up and started shoveling with more vigor than usual. She made it seem she was shoveling cotton candy more than actual manure. She had been smiling the entire time; and all the stars were to be seen in her eyes, forgetting the anger and the soreness her muscles bore. “I am done, Madame de Splertini!” said Vera excitedly, as she dropped her shovel on Splertini’snfoot and threw off her brown-speckled shirt. That article of clothing also flew into the hopping charlatan’s face with a resounding slap. The purple-haired child cackled as she made it seem like she was scandalously streaking about -- when really she was quite presentable and ready for training. The woman was not far-sighted and made a grave error in judgement. Madame peeled the soiled shirt off her face in a rage but Vera’s blurry form had vanished into a small cloud of dust. She would inform Elladora of Vera’s despicable behavior as she only saw a blur of peach before her disappearance.

After appearing before the cozy trailer her family stayed at she opened the door and closed it behind her with a loud slam. Though she never made it past a whole day without breaking a sweat, Vera refused to smell like animal droppings and showered quickly.

Vera then wiggled into a fresh leotard and quickly exited the trailer. She zipped past other trailers and made it to where she usually saw her brother, but lately she was seeing more of Jesse. She wasn’t complaining as she entered the makeshift gym. And for some reason she was trying to look discreet. She twiddled her thumbs, her hair whipping around, as she searched everywhere for him.

There were many extraordinary sights to be had, but what caused her to gasp was not the work of a contortionist but instead the crumpled form of a child.

“Jesse!” the human noodle cried, jumping over an elevated bar and landing squarely on the shapely back of Handsome Hank, who was doing mad push ups in the hopes of getting the attention of Bareback Betty.

Vera looked down at him sheepishly, apologized, and gave his big head an awkward pat. She bounced off the embarrassed man and dropped to the redhead’s side. She was on her knees, kindly wrapping an arm around him to help him up. He seemed capable of doing it himself so she released him, gently and hesitantly.

It didn’t take long for her to revert back to her bubbly self. “Hi, Jesse Boo! Push through your shoulders and squeeze your butt when you go into a handstand. It’s what I do! Liiiikkeee,” she grabbed a handful of dirt and powdered her arms and face with the stuff (given Jesse’s messy state, she didn’t want him feeling like the odd one out) before kicking up and lengthening the body upright, keeping her legs tight and toes pointed. She looked behind her, not daring to look down as it was a balance killer. “This!” her voice sounded funny and strained. Her back and arms were very sore.

“Do you,”” Vera said, executing her handstand with some difficulty because of the blow she received earlier, “like it here?”










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Post by Jester Mon Sep 06, 2021 4:22 pm



The voice that cried out to him rang like music to the boy's ears, melodic and sweet it sent an excited pang through the boys heart as the purplette child rushed over to him. He looked up at her, his expression one of awe he watched her bundle towards him, managing to land quite an impression of the good looking performer doing excessive push-ups. He flushed slightly as without hesitation she wrapped an arm around him to help him up. He nodded as he gave her tips, cementing her words into his brain as best he could. "H-Hi..." He replied softly, the greeting itself a struggle to release. His quiet nature had become quickly an anticipated quality of the boy. Albeit if there was someone who could coax words out of him, it was generally the young girl he'd become quite acquainted with since his arrival. Her pepper nature and curious quirks were something he always found comforting. Even know as she dusted herself with dirt from the floor for no reason, perhaps she wanted to match him? Although Jesse couldn't fathom why.

As she proceeded to before a much more impressive handstand than himself, he smiled softly at her. Amused by the sound of her strained tone, she was a funny girl, this one. He nodded keenly, bringing his hands together in a weak clap. Before lowering his hands quickly, it dawning on him that the clap might have been patronizing, the soft blush on his cheeks deepening with embarrassment. The question that followed threw him off balance, it was a simple question with no malevolence or motive behind it.

But it brought a lot into question about his own state of being. On one hand, he missed his mother dearly, the bitter way in which they had parted plague his every waking thought. His golden eyes constantly flitting around the circus in hopes that she would round the corner, arms open to him, eyes filled with regret for her actions. He missed being at home, mostly he missed his bedroom. It had been his one safe space, the place where darkness could not touch him. Almost as though an invisible barrier kept it at bay, the tears of his mother and the hate of his father never crossing the threshold. Without that room to shut himself in, he felt constantly vulnerable.

On top of this, his illusion of the Circus, a place he'd once dreamed to venture, had undergone a great revelation to him. The work was near torturous, the adults weren't nearly as fun nor peppy behind the curtain and there was a feeling in the air he could not place. Sinister toxicity between the individuals that albeit being never addressed, lingered above them. He could feel it, in their interactions, as he watched one exchange after the other. They were about as stable as his parents had been in the later years of their marriage, which was troubled and painful to say the less. There were lies, deceiving, resentment and jealousy. He could feel it, a quiet beast that lurked in the shadows.

In spite of this, there were moments. Moments were the child found a unique peace, alongside a feeling that was utterly new to him. Despite the dark energies he feeling siphoning from the adults, there was something entirely different about being a part of the circus in comparison to his normal life. A change he had not anticipated; the feeling of belonging. Regardless of his traumatic assignment into their company, him joining had been quickly accepted. His odd behaviour that normally caused others to convulsed in disgust, was treated as normality. It didn't matter if you were odd here, because this was a home for oddities. A place they could inhabit without judgement or shunning. For once in his life, Jesse didn't feel ostracized for his quirks.

"S-Sometimes." He answered honestly, not wanted to lie to the girl. He knelt down beside her, drawing random symbols in the dirt with his finger. "Um, V-Ve...Ve.." He tried to say her name, but his anxious stutter was making it hard for him to get out. Instead, he moved on to his intended question, "Do y-you want to, um... run through some r-routines with...m-me?" The question was coy, laced with hesitation. Routines, in particular, were something the boy enjoyed immensely. It was one thing to practice moves individually, but it was much more thrilling to choreograph them into a dance. He'd seen the other doing in and he had hoped to try it for himself, preferably with the girl he'd hoped to get closer to.


~~~




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Post by Aubrey Pomme Bouffónt Mon Sep 06, 2021 5:22 pm

Behind the Pantomime (Flashback) Posting-temp2-copy





The inside of the tent was no less slummy than the children; there were sweating performers, periods of rising filth, and adult humor. On entering this figurative bubble no one else could, her shy companion, without knowing it, had reduced everything outside themselves with his timid clapping and friendly demeanor. Vera Jayne, without trying to be rude, was not sorry to expose her glee. Nodding more than she needed to, she replied giggling,— “I would like that very much, J - J - Jesse!”

“I really would!” continued the handstanding girl, and there was a sprinkle of something surreal and feverish in her tone. At that moment, her excitement ultimately threw her off her balance, and down she fell like a rock. Vera Jayne, by the aid of the same willingness of the lad, performed many other basic tricks connected with the necessary maintenance of their flexibility and stamina, which they would go over more than once and in unison for far longer than today.

And, by accustomization of his having been integrated into such a cultish society, the same people who had, certainly, taken him in more than noticed Jesse was a sure natural since the moment he set foot onto the training grounds. He was undoubtedly the prodigy Percival Walden sized him up to be, for the most versatile of entertainers were made to start the second they learned to walk. He was very adept at learning for a sapling who had never done a simple tumble. He was blending extraordinarily well with the culture established by such outlandish folk. The more of those capabilities he often exhibited, the less of a window to the realm beyond the tent he was for the niece of the flagrantly charming ringmaster. To others, he was a light they more than failed to snuff out as his inexperience made them believe he would not be able to pull his own weight around. A month or so in and he had proved them quite wrong.

Nevertheless, there was in the inspired adolescent so much vigor, power, and, so to speak, foreordaining, that in the heart of Jesse’s caretaker ignited a particularly gruesome form of admiration, the uncomfortable staring whenever he had his back turned, the lukewarm smiles that hid the array of fanciful positions he imagined happening upon his lap, too conscious of his thoughts but even in spite of himself, he reveled in every embrace the curve of his shoulder brushing up against his cheek. Of course, when he opened his eyes, it was too sun-kissed to belong to him and the hair upon it was a hue too green to even associate it with his. The body upon him was too full of soft curves for him to even fathom, but he knew enough that they did not belong to the boy he desired. And then it dawned on him that an evening of success had every single one of them stupidly drunk.

Mistakes were made. But not this one! He thought as he sent Elladora crashing into the floor with a violent shove. Where shame and hurt flashed in her blue eyes, her same eyes were sparkling elsewhere in the dark and they were younger somehow as a light cast upon the walls. Those eyes were Vera’s and they weren’t sad, in fact, they were glad and her voice was a whisper. “Let’s play hooky tonight, Jesse. Follow my lead, out of here, past the menagerie, and we’re gone. Look, they’re way too loopy to figure out we’re not where we’re supposed to be, so why don’t we make the best of our time together? We can’t stay cooped up in here forever.” Vera cooed mischievously, pushing him out of the trailer she had barricaded themselves in for most of the party.

The night was full of crickets as they emerged. There was only nature’s soothing music as animals beaten and bruised slept in their cages, the flashlight in her hand permitted Vera to make out the scars uhhhh marring the jewel of the circus, a great tiger. The girl pitied her always, being mindful of her rest, lowered her flashlight, and kept it pointed at the ground rather than at her directly before guiding Jesse closer to the cage with a look. “I’ve always thought your cage was too small, Sheba. How great would it be, Jesse,” she said in a whisper, “if she could totally sneak out with us?”











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Post by Jester Mon Sep 06, 2021 6:11 pm



The boy with blood orange locks and golden eyes would struggle to contain his anxious tremble as he awaited the small purplette's answer. Her heart raced eagerly in his chest and he felt a distinct fluttering in his stomach. He was hyper-aware that his palms with perspiring more than usual, secreting small droplets of ammonia, urea and salt. The child had never attempted to request something of this level of another child before, never having felt welcomed to. But Vera, the Waldens youngest, well she was different. Special. Her delicate features, those warm eyes and infectious smile. Somehow she both put him at ease and set him on edge at the same time. But not in a bad way, in fact, there was something strangely addictive about her presence. The kind of substance only a child could indulge in; finally, someone who wanted to befriend him.

It was wonderful.
It was terrifying.
All at once.


It was merely seconds that had passed but to him, it had felt like much longer. As she happily agreed, he would feel flooded with elation. The mere validation that she was willing, perhaps even eager, to spend time with him bringing an innocent joy to the boy. Despite his excitement, however, he would only offer her a small smile. A trained mechanic of his fathers, a man who was not fond of boisterous children. And without further ado, the pair would dive into their practice.

It was one of his most fruitful practices since joining the Circus, inspired even. For the first time since joining, Jesse would feel a slight sense of pride in his own work, every move delivered with even more vigorous direction than usual. Putting thought into every detail, and not permitting himself any slack. Details were important don't you know? Remembering to point your toes, extending your limbs, maintaining a consistent expression. Hours upon hours of lessons on the aesthetic of the physical form, and how even a slight grimace could ruin the entire image your performance was set to paint. There was no doubt, his attention to detail aided him, as did his ability to pick things up quickly. Like a sponge, he absorbed and absorbed and absorbed. And much to the disdain of some, he never seemed to leak. But he didn't care for those thoughts, he knew of them, he was young but not foolish. Their bodies emitted envy like a thick chemical aerosol, the toxicity of which you could taste on your tongue. But there were some smells you couldn't cover, no matter how much perfume you used. It didn't matter, any of it. It was mundane, for the boy was consumed with one hope alone.

The hope that Vera was impressed.


♢♢♢♢♢


Night came, and the air was thick with more flavours, however not just with the tang of envy, but the scent of inebriation, the hot breaths of inter-circus relations and defiance amongst adults. The children, however, were far from the rambunctious engagements of the crew having secluded themselves in the privacy of a trailer. Jesse would glance back at Vera, giving no resistance to her soft shoves of guidance. "W-won't we get in trouble?" He countered weakly, his conscious pawing at him trying to reel him in. However, the truth was, he did want to sneak out with the girl, but the thought of a belt to his soft flesh made him hesitant. Even more so at the thought of coarse leather laying his painful bite not only onto him but on Vera's smooth skin also.

Alas, he conceded, unable to resist the idea of such freedoms. After the long gruelling hours of the day, the prospect of exploring the night by Vera's side was tantalizing. A forbidden fruit amongst childish whims. They would approach Sheba's cage, the coppery scent of blood reaching the boy's nose. Sign of the Tigress's own unpleasant relationship with Cirque Du Reves. He moved closer to the bars, closer than the adults would permit, but what did that matter? They weren't here. Golden irises would explore the marred flesh, and a new feeling would fill the boy. Strange and sinister, it percolated inside him, creeping closer to the surface for a mere moment. He turned his head to Vera as she spoke, his eyes alight with quiet anger, he would nod. "She doesn't belong in a cage." He responded, his words coated in mild vexation and pity for the creature.


~~~




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Post by Aubrey Pomme Bouffónt Tue Sep 07, 2021 12:25 pm

Behind the Pantomime (Flashback) Posting-temp2-copy





While pushing her timid friend Vera Jayne gradually thought about the implications of that crucial question, and at the moment when she raised her eyes from the back of his fiery head to the side of his sheet-white face, the boy did not put up a fight; for it was possible he might have wanted to tag along too, to see something more natural and less artificial. “I meant to behave, but there were just way too many other options,” she affirmed candidly, not wanting to shy away from the truth. “And that’s the trouble with trouble,” she added onto the statement sheepishly, “it always seems like such a fun alternative to being stuck in the safe zone.”

She found that safe-zone nonexistent as their people got too rowdy, making calm nights away from them look more and more like a paradise. She rubbed her cheek against his like a cat as she wrapped her arms around him; it was a quiet begging, not wanting to necessarily coerce him into accompanying her to the lake, but she also was not entirely set on being all by her little lonesome. The last thing she wanted for herself was to be alone. She wanted to share the thrilling experience of doing something delightfully ordinary rather than extraordinary. This was something for them, not for a crowd of faces they’d never met.

All her friends were inanimate objects and the animals within the solid confines of the menagerie, but with a differing level of realism, some very chatty, others very quiet while being the best sort of listeners, as when no opinion is given when she complains or giggles over something humorous she might have heard that day, and yet they could not feel unless she imagined the emotion or the words she wanted for them. It was, therefore, a reminder that she really was alone, no one stopped her from creating them, time and time again, filling the void with so much fantasy, wanting interaction that expanded past the routine of her day, a semblance of normalcy. She wanted to be understood, and she seemed to have found that in the quiet one with the fiery hair. “Please, please, please! I’m using the magic word of all words. That’s something you can’t pull out of a hat,” she half-whispered and rambled into his ear before she gave him the appropriate space, “unless you write it out on a piece of paper. Have it nicely folded for the picking and then —- play games, I suppose.“


The cage bound wildcat and the once upon a time outsider were but deemed peculiarly close and respectful toward each other by only those that cared to observe; the posture of the striped creature was relaxed and the eyes softened. When Sheba recognized the children, which was quite easy for her to do in the dark, and when they were seen traversing such dreary parts, there was audible concern in the soft noises she made. The resting tigress eventually made an effortless stride toward the cold, narrow, and gloomy bars. It wasn’t all that spacious, for a few steps was all it took for her to reach the children. And if hate had formed when it came to humans, such feelings hadn’t formed in her heart for the near-hairless cublings. It wasn’t the vulnerability of their age that earned them her commiseration. There was ambiguous empathy, a mutual understanding of each other that set them apart from everyone else.

In the sudden pacing which Sheba displayed to Jesse and Vera Jayne, there was that warning and the worrying twitch of the tail. She didn’t need to understand their tongue to sense the trouble they were brewing and she made sure to show her disapproval soundlessly. This would have been accurately expressed in a hearty growl, one that would have alerted them of reproach, but instead, there was silence in its place so as to not alert any of the folks. It was healthy for the little ones to want to roam free and play a little while, but much like in the wild, there are consequences and a looming threat waiting just around the corner.

Vera Jayne was, so far very much forgetful of their furry friend’s sudden shift in mood, so thoroughly delighted with the thought of obtaining the key to her door that she sighed dreamily albeit sadly. To let her accompany them, to have her stretch her powerful legs under the stars; what wishful thinking. “When we’re old enough we can just free her ourselves and no one would be able to say a thing about it because she’d probably eat ‘em. Like strawberry ice cream. That’s why we’ve got to do it in a safe space, anywhere that’s far, far away from people.”

That was a promise. “This is such a bad idea. I understand if you’d want to stay behind, Jesse-Boo.” Continued the mischievous idiot with admirable candor. “Just summon me with an ouija board if I die on the way there. It’ll be awesome.”










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Post by Jester Sat Sep 11, 2021 11:30 am



The girl's words would surprise him, in truth he agreed, the excitement of misbehaviour was tantalizing. But the fear of punishment lingered, still a circus should have been a house of fun and it was - for the audience. So mayhaps, for once the children of the performing arts should be permitted a little enjoyment no? Was that too much to ask?

Jesse's thoughts came to a sudden halt as he felt Vera's cheek pressing against his, her lithe arms snaked around him in a soft embrace. Stiffening in shock, the entirety of his honey-hued irises exposed as his eyes widened to an extreme state. His heart pounding erratically as he stayed there within her playful hold. As she continued to plead with him, finally she would move away and much like a statue he remained frozen and unmoving. A moment of quiet passing before the boy could bring himself to speak. "O-o-o-ok-ke...k-ke... okay." He stuttered quietly, barely able to speak his submission. He was a stick of butter, and she had melted him into a puddle of incoherence and fluster.

Once his focus had shifted from Vera to the tiger, he was able to return himself to a calmer state. The mixed feelings whizzing around in the pits of his stomach fluttering away, replaced by dark anguish over the feline's state of existence. Sheba would notice them, her response to the children was vastly different from that of hers towards the adult humans. The adults of the species she despised but there was a kindred understanding of the younglings that she seemed to possess. That in a way, they were just as caged as her. Trapped behind the bars of the Circus prison that was their life.  

Vera spoke once more, responding to his comment with words he wasn't expecting. When they were older... He repeated in his mind, eyes turning towards the girl, his expression more contemplative. "Sheba..." He called firmly, his voice steadier than it's usual uncertainness. More assertive. The feline paused in her pacing, her feline stare gliding toward him. He stretched forward, squeezing his arm between the cage bars, reaching out to her with his palm facing the sky. "Come." He spoke again, with the voice of a boy not sticking his arm into the home of a man-eating beast, but stating a request to a dear friend. She would pace once more, her body turning as she pawed towards him. Even at her age, her size for a tigress was still tremendous enough to loom over the children. His gaze remained on hers, connected and unwavering. His entire hand could easily fit inside the entirety of her powerful jaws, with a swift bite she could tear off his entire forearm. They both knew this, understood it. "Do you hear that? One day we'll all be free. When that day comes, will you eat whoever harms us Sheba?" There was no playful jest to his question, he meant every word.

The feline would let out another growl, short and breathy, much like a scoff of disbelief. Before pacing away from the children once more, following which, Jesse retracted his arm from the cage's depths. The future wasn't something the boy dreamt about often, finding it easier to take each day as it came. A future together, as adults, completely free from burden. Now wouldn't that be something? He squeezed his eyes shut, he didn't want to think on it, to tempt fate's devilish hand with such hope. Hope always meant hurt. His eyes popped open and he turned his gaze to Vera, his normally shy eyes looking at her with more serious intent.

"You're not allowed to die Pebble, I won't allow it." He told her firmly, after a moment he realised how strange he must seem, speaking in such a cool way. As it dawned on him, his cheeks flushed slightly and he glanced away. "I...I mean... I'll protect you and ... wherever you go. I'll follow you know... c-cause we're..." He trailed off, could he say it? The f-word. It felt like bad luck to utter such a dream from his lips.

~~~




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Post by Aubrey Pomme Bouffónt Sun Sep 12, 2021 6:55 pm

Behind the Pantomime (Flashback) Posting-temp2-copy





Vera-Jayne watched him. She might have thought he was under a spell, with his wiry arm snaking through the fine space between the bars. There was something in his eyes; an undetectable shift in his demeanor that stopped her from crying out. But that did not mean the fear she felt for Jesse was not real or there, as well as the strong desire to nab him by the back of his shirt and throw him well out of harm’s way.

If only she could move.

“J-J-Jesse,” stuttered Vera-Jayne, her voice barely above a whisper, not wanting to excite the tigress, who seemed perfectly drawn to him now. Her eyes were entirely focused on her friend, her motives unpredictable at this point. The little girl lost her breath as he found himself at the mercy of one of the most dangerous creatures in the circus. She had been busy dreading his safety and trying to calm the erratic beating of her heart. It occurred to her that she quite missed the intent behind his question, and when he spoke she hardly registered the meaning behind his words until she was able to compose herself again.

What an anomaly. Sheba had accepted Jesse and laid not a single claw on his head. Vera-Jayne was so relieved, she trembled like an autumn leaf in the fall and sniffled.

She wiped the tears from her eyes and kindly touched his arm, feeling so conflicted; she was not certain if she wanted to scream at him for being so reckless or hug him to death. Before she could find her voice and give him the verbal thrashing of a lifetime, he seemed to have soothed the little, purple beast he fondly called ‘Pebble’. But that wasn’t enough to quell the bitterness in her voice. “Then you’re not allowed to lose your arm! Please, don’t do that again. You’re not an axolotl. You can’t just grow another one!” chided Vera-Jayne, keeping her tone as level as possible so as to keep reasonably quiet. But it was very clear that if the two had been in a room together, alone and with no one to stop her, she would have made sure to render him completely deaf with her screaming.

“No offense, Sheba.” Added little Walden, this time a bit sheepishly, considering the tiger’s feelings on the matter. Since the incident, she hadn’t once considered letting him go and allowed her gentle grip on his arm to linger a little longer until it became as natural as holding hands. The overprotective child simmered down just in time to listen to the flustered boy — still clinging to him like a starfish to a glass tank.

It was her turn to melt like butter now, and an undeniable warmth spread across her face until she glowed as brightly a red as his hair. She waited for him to finish, but when she saw that he couldn’t or perhaps wouldn’t. She surely hoped to have guessed the ending of his statement correctly and with a happy, uncertain look on her face she outed this:

“‘Cause we’re,” her baby-blues softened as she found the answer in his eyes, the answer she had been waiting for all along, “we’reeeee . . . meat-bags?”

No, that wasn’t the answer she anticipated or even hoped for. “I like it. But we’re only so much more than that now, don’t you think? I would imagine we’re f-friends.” Uttered Vera-Jayne shyly, with her hand in his now, as they promenaded through the small thicket littered with fireflies. The peaceful path would lead them to the lake, but not without a gorgeous view. “I know you’re my only friend.”

She let out a deep breath she didn’t know she’d been holding as she trusted him enough to release his hand. “My very best friend.” She said additionally, suddenly finding the grass beneath her feet to be a whole lot more interesting. She was embarrassed by how pleased she was, outing something like that.

“Am I yours?” she asked, avoiding his gaze as she reached for a rock that was smooth and ideal for stone skipping. Suddenly so anxious to learn of his thoughts— if they were mutual or not —- she did a terrible job on her first throw. Instead of it bouncing merrily across the watery surface, it only managed to succeed in sending a turtle flying through the air like a little frisbee.

Not one to hurt animals or condone it, Vera’s face fell as guilt consumed her. The idiot still couldn’t help but ask:


“It’s alive, right?”










Word Count; 762
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Post by Jester Sun Sep 12, 2021 7:02 pm


Jesse's eyes widened in surprise as she scolded him for his behaviour, of course she had scared her. No normal person could stick their arm in a tiger's cage without fear of having it torn off, then again Jesse had never been normal had he? He considered how he might explain himself, how somehow he knew that Sheba wouldn't have hurt him. It seemed like a non-sensical arguement to make and one he would not win, so he resigned, looking down and uttering a soft 'sorry' to the purplette. The last thing he wanted to do was upset Vera, anything but that.

As his promise to protect her faded off, unable to finish the sentence over his exuberant fluttering. She would aid him with by offering one of her usually quirky response, Jesse's looked away, almost as though he was sharing a warm smile with the floor. "Y-yeah... meat-bags." He uttered back to her. She would continue own, unlike him, being brave enough to use to f-word as he had been too shy to do. His eyes raised to hers, honey-coloured orbs wide with awe and relief. So she thought it too, they were friends. The word spread a strange warmth through the child, it felt taboo and exhilirating. He wanted to paint a picture with the word scrawled a thousand times. To sing it so loudly that even the runts back in Minstrel who had hated him would here. Jesse Bouffónt had a friend. An actual friend.

Her addition of the word 'very' and 'best' would only elate the boy further, so that his face stretched wide with a rare smile. His face, usually so sunken and stoic, lit up with the radiance of a child at christmas, a beautiful row of teeth and eyes alight with merry. He would watch as she moved away, his palm missing the feel of her hands in his. She would ask in return if he was her friend, to which his cheeks would flush beetroot. "Uh huh." He answered quietly, before wandering over to her. He would watch her skip the rock, "Y-your my... first and only f-frie-" His words cut short by the sound of the stone hitting an animal. Jesse ran over to the creature, picking it up tentatively and examining it. "I think so," Jesse answer, peering into the gap where the turtle had hidden it's head. He wasn't actually sure, but he figured that saying anything other than this would only upset the girl.

Jesse would return his gaze from the reptile to Vera, confirming his suspicious by witnessing the  guilt written on her face. This he couldn't fully understand, it was an accident. And it wasn't like it was a person, it was just a random animal. He would put it down, carefully placing it back into the water. "Let's go back," He told her, figuring that they had risked being away for long enough. The longer they stayed out, the more risk they had of being caught. And being caught, meant being beaten.

~~~




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Post by Aubrey Pomme Bouffónt Mon Sep 13, 2021 2:23 pm

Behind the Pantomime (Flashback) Posting-temp2-copy





On another night like this, not unlike their first trip to the lake, he might have told her the exact same thing.

Let’s go back.


Vera-Jayne, who had dropped her eyes on the ground at the usual wise words of Jesse-Boo, nodded wistfully and fixed them once more on her sage confidant. She knew better than to prolong their brief time together through the intense power of persuasion. Such tools she liked to use involved the lightest of tugs, the silliest of jokes, and, if creative enough, the craziest of ideas.


“You seem to be at odds over keeping to a simple curfew.”

Anything would be preferable than this dreadful state of calm.


The sultry voice hummed sweetly, and stepped into the open with an older woman not so far behind, who looked too happy to be here. It was perfectly unsettling. His mood hadn’t altered since the moment she discovered their whereabouts. He would be all smiles when he looked upon their little sheet-white faces.


As he commonly expected this shortcoming from his niece, and always knew where to follow the breadcrumbs of her mischief with no trouble, he found himself surprised at finding timid, quiet Jesse in her very vicinity. With a feeling of almost scientific interest, Percival lowered himself to the level of his eye and reflected on this curious development. What a fascinating thing.


The boy never, not once, ceased to impress Percival; on top of being unnaturally talented; the late bloomer also possessed, perhaps, a rebellious streak. That such a shift should have taken place was abnormal to him. And yet it was a factual happenstance.


The ringmaster was not persisting in talking as much as the giggling fortune teller. During the same time that she continued to berate the children, the serene man stood tall, not necessarily turning a blind eye on the matter. There, in his languid movements, an uncommunicated demand for obedience was discernible in this outwardly gentle invitation which he extended to Jesse; to follow him closely.


“Don’t dawdle.” Reminded the beloved showman to the youth, dressed in his usual crimson garb minus the top hat.


He knew the way home and did not care to address Madame Splertini or Vera-Jayne. One thing he had the interest to address was his newly found distrust of Jesse, and so he pressed a hand to his back in silence, too systematically, as though guiding a diamond ring rather than a living, breathing child through the gnarled thicket.


“Jester,” trilled Percival, saccharine, “my dear Jester.”


The sound of a slap echoed from where they once stood. The fortune teller certainly had a questionable temper on her.


“Tell me what you’ve done to disappoint me tonight.” He said.


Unfazed by the sudden cry that followed after the unpleasant sound, the tall, lanky shadow of a man gripped the back of his shirt, under the guise of amicability.


“For every action there is a consequence. But I’m fairly sure you of all people know that.” Whispered Percival, his eyes of amber reflecting none of the pity in his voice.


The splashing was deafening, and the two had already nearly made it through the small patch of forest, a fair distance from the lake, while the stifled, watery cries of a submerged little girl still trembled with foul, fighting words unsuited for someone her age and declarations of self-blame.




Word Count; 639
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Last edited by Aubrey Pomme Bouffónt on Mon Sep 13, 2021 8:05 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Post by Jester Mon Sep 13, 2021 3:42 pm



As time passed, Jesse was mildly aware of that change he was undergoing. Those once innocence golden orbs that looked at a purple headed girl with hope for a happy ever after grew duller each day. But still, hope he clung to. Hope in the shapes he so heavily fantasised about, daydreams about various scenarios. Escaping with pebbles, going to fun places with her, taking her to meet his Mama. His mama forgiving him and taking them both in, sitting at the dinner table giggling over some cartoon they were watching. All would be well and it was bliss.

But the daydreams could only do so much, coupled with the fleeting moments he shared with the girl, they did their part. But even they could no shield a young boys mind from the ever growing darkness that sought to claim him. His hate.

She was the only good one, the rest could die. Sometimes he dreamt about that too, but he didn't tell Vera about those daydreams. He couldn't.

All he had wanted was another moment with her, to steal a moment by the lake. Some time away from the angry scaldings and the unpleasantries. But luck had not been on the side of the children tonight, as displayed by the cold words of the ringmaster that echoed through the dark night.

Jesse stayed silent, watching in restrained horror as the adults approached them. His words like the soft flicker of a lighters flame being ran across your skin. Watching as he knelt down before him, those devil eyes causing the child to tremble silently. Never in his life had he carried a greater fear for a man, not even at the sight of his other father laying hands on his mother or him for that matter. Because even James Bouffant, as firm as his touch was, was different. Painful but full of anger. Percivals touch was ... something else. Something far more sinister, far more taboo. And the more the young boy endured, the more his own fear grew. Fear that fueled his hate.

The fortune teller was doing the telling off, but Jesse could not hear her. His attention was locked on Percival, watching him warily. Percival was fast, like a cobra, he struck and when he struck - he broke. Jester felt relief when the man stood once more, leading the way home. Jesse shot Vera a quiet look, apology in his eyes. He should have got them back sooner, found a way for them not to get caught. It was his fault, at least that was how he saw it. No matter where she led him, Jesse never blamed Vera.

He followed along, stiffening at the feel of Percival's hand on his back. Chills running through the child's body, silent tears welled in the eyes of the boy. I hate him. Hate. Hate. Hate him. He thought. His words, like venom, oozed under the child's skin, his mouth opened but no words left him. As the sound of the slap would cause Jesse to whip his head round, frantically attempting to turn only to be stopped by the man's grip on his shirt.

He tried to look at her, to see what was happening, he could hear it. Her suffering. He tugged harder, wanting to get to her. The tears would free themselves as the child whimpered desperately, "Please... d-don't hurt her. It was me, all me. I snuck out. I am bad, punish me. P-please." He begged through his sobs, pulling harder against the mans grip. Wishing that this was a dream, and that any moment he would be waking up.  Yet hope as he might, he wouldn't.

Because this was a nightmare from which he wouldn't wake.

~~~




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Post by Aubrey Pomme Bouffónt Mon Sep 13, 2021 7:59 pm

Behind the Pantomime (Flashback) Posting-temp2-copy





Purple locks trembled a little as he looked over his shoulder, his eyes of the purest amber resting upon the path behind them, the nature of his staring void of any concern or warmth. Every defiant shout from Vera told him the clock was ticking.

The weeping boy, to whom he dared to keep at his side, was radiant. Rehearsed, and with an unconsciously oily gesture, he traced with the tip of his finger incoherent lines on his pallid countenance, and admired the diamond sheen of his tears. They would not end tonight. But he was in no rush to find the mercy the child must have hoped for, the hysterical cries of his niece were his chains and Percival was having a wonderful time pulling, yanking every single one of them. He had the look of a cat pawing idly at a ball of yarn.

It was a form of subjugation sans the mess, he fancied with a shameless smile, although he must have remembered that at some point humans couldn’t breathe very well under water and considered imparting that wise, casual reminder to the faithful, wicked Madame.

He had to refrain much from giggling, finding an odd satisfaction in watching everything unfold as he sat on a throne of unrequited sadism.

“You,” he feigned shock with undertones of giddy delight as he cupped his wet, little face, “a bad boy? Our terrible deeds follow us almost like a shadow; broken trust is hard to mend with pretty words. It really is difficult to build rapport with people once discovered so certain things must be done in order to repair it. There is still a light to this.” He paused to produce an effect, having released him long ago to lower himself to the ground.

“That is more than enough,” he told the woman, his voice loud enough to be heard.

The Madame didn’t quite respond immediately, thinking she might have killed her.

To her strange relief, she had merely lost consciousness and confirmed this with the sighing man.

“She is fine,” he reassured Jesse, knowing of their touching bond.

Percival seated himself on his knees, but moved much closer to the child than before, so near that a delicate and eerie breath could be felt on his earlobe as slender, elegant fingers traversed the smooth skin of his back: pushing up the cloth that previously obscured all the beauty and suppleness of youth he often hungered for.

“I want you in so many ways,” came a sultry voice that was soft but carried with it a quality that was dark, licentious, and foreboding, “that I can’t,” using his weight to overpower the much smaller frame beneath him, “even put it into words.”

He found “the words” commendatory for robbing him of a kiss along with his innocence; wrong and sinful passion unfolding and plucking away at the petals of a small bud that barely had a chance to blossom.




Word Count; 515
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