*Note* This fic is currently going rewrites, but will still be updated
I never really asked for much. Just one day with my father.
Haley's circus had just come to town and when my dad told me we were finally going to spend some time together. I was ecstatic. I was also lonely.
Ever since Mom had left us a while ago, there had been some distance between us. He no longer called me his little Princess or spent time with me altogether. I was thirteen then, I hadn't been to a circus since I was eight and couldn't wait to go.
I stood in line in the chilly late October air with my hands in the pockets of my 70's style denim jacket that my mom had given to me. I looked up at my dad and smiled. For the first time in a long time we were going to have fun. Once we got our tickets my dad bought me a bag of blue cotton candy. For the first half hour I was able to forget all about my worries. I finally felt like a princess again, sitting on the carousel with my light-brown hair dancing behind me.
By 8:00 we went inside a large tent for the show. I watched in awe as a man danced with fire in front of us, tossing around flaming batons and even lit a ring that he proceeded to use as a hula hoop, the flames barely licking his bare, tattooed torso. He reminded me of a young version of my father, when he was able to sweep Mom off her feet.
A woman with a snake came out next, dressed in thin layers of clothing like a gypsy. She seemed maybe in her early forties, but her movements made her seem younger. The snake slid around her body as the music played. I didn't even notice how my father's eyes lingered on her long after she finished her display.
Once outside the tent I caught sight of a dart throwing game. If you popped three balloons you would win a stuffed polar bear.
"Hey Dad can we-" I began, but then noticed that he was not at my side.
"Dad?" I called out for him, but there was no answer. I stumbled back through the crowd, until I caught sight of his jacket. I ran up to him and caught him by the sleeve.
"Dad! I found you. Wait till you see…" I was interrupted by a glare. I let go immediately. "Look honey," he said pulling out a small wad of cash. "Why don't you go have fun by yourself for while? There's something I need to check out."
Before I could reply he was once again lost in the crowd. Frowning, I made my way back to the dart booth. All of a sudden it felt much colder.
"Five darts, please." I mumbled to the red haired boy managing the booth. He gives me a small, sweet smile. He looked about my age if not older. He wordlessly passed me the darts and stood to the side as I started throwing. I thought about my father.
Pop. One down.
We were just beginning to have fun.
Clack. I missed.
Why did he have to give me such a dirty look? Did I do something wrong? The last time he gave me that look, I had to cover up the bruise on the side of my head for weeks.
Pop. I hit it right in the center.
I remember my mother assuring me it would never happen again.
Clack. I'm not even paying attention.
Mom… I sure did miss her. I wish he didn't have to drive her away. She wasn't perfect but she tried her best. He just made it too difficult for her. Like he's beginning to do with me.
I'm brought back to reality as the final pop of a balloon hits my ears. Oh yeah, I'd won. The boy hands me the polar bear and it makes me a little less sad. I smile and take it.
"Wow. Two straight through the board". He says looking at my darts with approval. I follow his green eyes. It's true. I had thrown the last two pretty hard. I was about to say something when he looks over my shoulder and his face falls. He clenches his jaw and looks down. I glance behind me and my eyes land on where his had once been.
My heart gets caught up in my throat. I don't know what to think because there is my dad, my father who had loved me and Mom for as long as I could remember with his tongue halfway down snake-lady's throat, hands roaming over her gypsy attire.
I felt sick to my stomach.
I see him leaving concession stand now, two beers in hand. I don't like this. As I run up to him he shoves me off and I can tell the beer wasn't all he's had. I know better than to annoy him further as he gives me a look as if to say Not now, dammit and I see snake lady take a drink from his hand and lead him to a trailer.
Now it's almost ten and the circus is closing. I'm sitting on a bench outside of the trailer my father is currently in, white bear clutched tight. It's much colder now.
Don't cry. I look down at my feet. Don't cry. It's not working. Tears fall. I feel pathetic.
I hear footsteps and immediately try my best to dry my eyes and I look up.
It's the boy. The one with dark red hair and eyes like green crystals that currently look puffy. He's standing five feet away from me and I don't know what to say.
"It's after hours you know."
"Yeah I know I just…" my lip trembles and I look down. I hate crying in front of people. I don't know what to say. "You live here?" I ask.
"Yeah. With my mom." He says the last syllable like a swear.
"Oh. Well my dad is… in… there." I say without thinking. He's now sitting by my side his nails sink into the bench.
Oh god, he must hate me. I mentally kick myself for saying this. I'm about to say something else but he surprises me. "I'm so sorry. She's a fucking whore." He mutters, his voice giving a hint of sorrow but his face remains stoic and neutral. "I'm Jerome by the way."
"Elise." I reply.
I reach into my bag, withdrawing a pack of Marlboro Lights. Why the hell not? I swiped a pack from my uncle Tom's place a while back. A single missing from my old man, he'd know immediately. He's not a bad father, really. Of course he overreacts when I step out of line. It's not something that I usually did. I had only ever smoked four in my life. The first making my lungs burn, the second being better, the third leaving my feeling sick. The fourth was just fine.
I light one and it's only then that I realize how close he was sitting next to me. "Want one?" He shakes his head. For some reason I feel a little better now, with this strange red haired boy at my side.
Tonight began as most nights usually do. My mother getting in the pants of the first man to smile at her. It still didn't make it any better when I was working the dart booth and saw her hands (and mouth) all over yet another man, making me forget all about the pretty girl in front of me. She was what made this night different than all the others.
I watch the soft-faced girl as she lets the smoke escape her parted lips and disappear in wisps into the night. We talk. Her name is Elise, just like that song by Beethoven. Classic and pretty. It was a name that suited her well.
We talk for what seems like an hour. She tells me about her life with her father and when our hands touch on the bench, I take hers into mine despite her blush. Her hand is cold. She leans her head on my chest, eyelids drooping. I want to put an arm around her but then her dad comes stumbling out of the trailer. She got what she wanted and sent him away, just like she always does.
Before anything else can happen he grabs her arm, muttering something incoherent before he drags her away from me. I want to go after her but my mother begins to pull me through the screen door. "My boy should stay away from girls like that." She says. "Now do the goddamn dishes."