It was the day mum and me had just been to the big shop in town to get my senior school uniform and even the smell of it was thrilling. I couldn’t wait to wear the dark green winter skirt, scratchy or not; and the satchel – well that was glorious! All shiny leather with new, stiff straps and brass buckles. We hurried off down the high street towards the bus stop, mum putting her purse away and me thinking about the bubblegum in one pocket and the thirteenth birthday lipstick Gillian had given me in the other. What was I now, girl or woman? I imagined myself as Brigitte Bardot, all slinky and sexy, and practiced a pout as I passed a shop window.
‘Hurry up will you, we’re going to miss the twenty five past if you dawdle!’
‘I’m coming, these shoes hurt!’ I was teetering along on the tiny new heels given me by my grandmother who worked in a shoe shop, and wearing my first pair of stockings with all their clips, hooks and bits of elasticated lace so it wasn’t that easy to get a move on.
Suddenly we ran into a crowd clogging the pavement and looking at something in the road. The traffic had stopped and it was backed up right the way to the chemist’s shop on the corner but I couldn’t see why. Ducking down to peer through the gaps between elbows and bags, I spotted a large gaudy vehicle with gold painted wheels – the circus was here! I wriggled to the front and hovered on the edge of the pavement, gawping at the glitzy glamour and the slapstick tumbling like a silly six year old.
‘Janice! Come on will you, I’ve dinner to get going!’
‘But mum, the traffic’s all jammed and it’s the circus and we just have to stay and watch!’ I used my best big eyed not-quite-whiney voice. ‘I’ll do the washing up after tea…’ She stopped, I stopped. Victory!
Jugglers and clowns were leaping about in the street, a large white stallion with its dazzling, glittery rider was rearing and prancing, and a dark faced boy was coming round selling tickets for the show. As he came closer, I saw that he also had dark sparkly eyes, gold earrings and a smile straight off a toothpaste advert. His shiny, crinkly, black hair tumbled down to his jaw and I thought I could see the beginnings of muscles in his bare brown arms. He was just gorgeous!
‘Ticket for the most beautiful girl in town?’ He held one out to me.
‘I haven’t got any money!’ I told him. How embarrassing, I was almost wailing!
‘You’re my guest then.’ He pushed the ticket into my hand and winked as he moved off into the crowd.
I stood there for ages, feeling dizzy, getting my breath back. Then I put the ticket in my pocket with the lipstick. Definitely with the lipstick. Yesterday was the best day ever.
(c) suzanne conboy-hill 2012