[ a short story on the occasion of the birthday of Jamie ]
[ a newly-aged juggler of some repute and much talent ]
It wasn’t simply the impact that shocked her. Sleep is a curious thing to wake from at the best of times when you have little concept of where your bed has taken up residence. She had only the vaguest memories of collapsing into the depths of the slightly smoky darkness, the scent of Nag Champa only just winning out over the cloying hash oil lingering even hours later in the cramped wooden enclosure.
Shit. I mean watch out. I mean sorry. I mean, shit, Kat, sorry, sorry, sorry, go back to sleep. What? Fuck, ouch, fuck, fuck, what the fuck was that, sleep, whatcha mean go back to sleep, who was that, shit my head, fuck off. Stop.
Only a moment too late but once a body has committed to the first full movement after an abrupt awakening, it is futile, any attempt to stop it from being completed, even if that movement does happen to take the body in question from its position lying in a precarious single bunk down a meter and a half into the bright sunlight of midday, streaming onto the wooden floor of what had, the previous night, been facetiously referred to as the treehouse but far more realistically was a wooden box occupied by visiting entertainers whose desire for escapism after a show and lack of financial stability, typically the source of their presence on the nearby stage in the first place, one must admit, merged to make it appear a wise choice.
In fact, it may have been a wise choice had descent been careful and leisurely in the light of morning rather than precipitous, sudden, and preceded by the clumsy impact of a club having taken flight from a half dozen meters away, the extreme other end of the elongated four-bunked cell, built into the no longer used sub-stage storage area.
Tom, you Jesus bastard, why am I on the floor and what did you fucking hit me with? Club. Sorry. I’m so sorry. There’s no sink in here and I brought back my bagel and, you know, I didn’t want to go back out there to find a place to wash my hands before I tried to fix that fuckup in the inverted shower from last night so I didn’t bean someone in the audience. Again. Guess at least you’re not likely to sue me for it like some kid’s parents in the third row, eh? No, Tom. I’m just going to beat your ass so you’ll spend the rest of the trip juggling in a wheelchair. Right. I’m going to go out and practice on the stage. Isn’t the stage dark? Yeah. But at least the worst that can happen to me out there is hitting myself with a falling club. True. Enjoy.
Kat let out a noise halfway between a growl and a laugh as the door closed behind Tom’s slinking form, clutching the clubs in both hands and pulling the handle with an extended pinky. She would stay on the floor another few minutes and drink in the scent, letting the sensations from their first performance of the tour caress her memory while her newly-bruised limbs regained some of their movement.
(Avi Sato, 2018)