Hi, My name is Michael McFall and I am 28 years old. I currently work in a call centre and have for some time been interested in short stories. I read quite a lot of stuff from historical books to biographies, although I must profess a love for truly funny books. I've wanted to write something like this before but didn't, for fear of being laughed at. I finally figured what the hell.
The Circus by Michael
"His oversized head shot out suddenly above the old
tree like some inane Jack in the box at a particularly unfortunate
child’s birthday party. He was wearing a bedraggled
white wig and a false beard. Both of which, judging by the
irreverent black whiskers poking out either side, seemed
to have been designed with a smaller and less intrusive
face in mind. My friends didn’t seem to mind though.
In fact they were loving every minute of it. What my father
lacked in grace and poise, he more than made up for in enthusiasm.
He jumped out from behind the withered tree where he had
been hiding and proceeded to dole out what little gifts
he had. I remember that he hadn’t left any of my friends
out and each one in turn got a little present from him.
The largest and most extravagant of this motley bunch was
of course reserved for the pained, awkward looking little
boy lost in the centre of a crowd of tiny, happy faces.
Petulance personified, I said nothing. I remember, even
as a small child, how unimpressed I was by the whole spectacle.
This was, as far as I could see, the magic of Christmas
shoved into a wood chipper and vomited out the other side.
Mulch for my own little flower-bed of childhood angst. He
proceeded to launch himself into Santa Claus with a gusto
that only a man who really loves his children can. I didn’t
speak to him for almost 2 weeks after that…
I hadn’t thought about that day for some time. The
memory of it seemingly lost in that fuzzy, indefinable place
in our minds where we put the things we don’t really
want to recall too vividly. When I thought about it now
I was filled with shame and embarrassment. Partially because
I was being a spoilt brat, and partially because I had remembered
how, seeing my discomfort, he tried so hard to make me laugh,
make me smile, make me anything.
The circus was in town that summer and he had brought me
there. I’ve loved the circus ever since. The sights,
the smells, the colourfully dressed people who seemed so
much more exciting and larger than life than the drab, uniform
adults I had encountered up until then. Mainly though, I
love it because it reminds me of him, of all the moments
that I had failed to grasp the significance of. The show
was sold out so he had paid a ticket tout double the normal
price so that we could be at the front. He couldn’t
really afford to do that but he did, seeking in vain the
approval of an ungrateful and blinkered child. As the show
started I could vaguely sense him looking at me every now
and then and smiling. I didn’t know why at the time,
but I understand now. His large and pleasant face mimicking
mine every time I laughed or smiled or withdrew in terror
at some perceived threat from the animals there. At the
end of the show he asked me what I thought of it and I’d
begun to tell him how much I enjoyed it, only to remember
that I was angry with him and stop mid sentence.
It’s funny how things turn out. Events beyond our
control swirl all around us. Circumstance throws us this
way and that with little regard for how we would wish things
to be. The more I saw of life the more I realised what unimportance
and triviality I had allowed to pervade my existence. All
the material possessions in the world ring hollow when compared
to ten seconds spent in silence with my father. I never
appreciated that, just like I never appreciated him.
He’s gone now. To a place I find impossible to imagine.
‘Does he know how much I miss him?’ I would
often wonder. I sometimes dream about him. The conversations
that should have happened, the things I should have said
when I had the chance to but never did. When I do dream
of that cold December day now, it always ends with me throwing
my arms around him and telling him how much I love him.
That’s how it should have been. I hope he knows that."
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