At the Circus
Margaret Sutton, rsm
Screech! Tires skidded to a sudden stop. “Hey,” shouted Joel as
he stepped quickly off the country road.
Seeing a small boy, barefoot and in P.J.’s, farmer Kirk called aloud,
“Lad, what’s up? It’s early morning and the sun won’t be up for another
hour. Want a ride?”
“No. I’m going to the circus. It’s right over there,” Joel answered,
pointing to a dark, open field.
“What’s your name, little man?’ asked Mr. Kirk, hoping to keep a
name is Joel, and I’m not a little man. I’m already four.
I know my way. I don’t need a ride.”
Mr. Kirk made a “U” turn, Joel thought, “I bet he will try to find my
house, and Mom doesn’t even know I’m out.”
Joel turned to go ‘right over there’, a swarm of fireflies announced their
presence by flashing their lights at the very same time.
thanks for the lights, fireflies. Now I can see,” greeted Joel.
line, the fireflies lit the way to the place Joel hoped to find--the
underground dugout where circus animals waited to perform.
heard the sound of “cuckoo, cuckoo,” as he reached the entrance.
“Come inside and enjoy your time with us,” a cuckoo bird said, as his head
went down and his tail went up in a quick bow. He pulled a string with his
beak and the door flew open. All the fireflies filed in. They took places
around the edge of a high canopy that covered the secret, circular space.
From there they would flicker their lights so Joel could see the actors.
how can I get through this small door? Joel asked himself.” Then,
“What is happening? Am I getting smaller or is the door getting bigger?
Well, I don’t care now. I’m in!”
“Wow, what decorations! That spider web glistens like silver,” Joel
exclaimed, looking up in wonder.
like silver—like crystal,” interrupted the spider who had spun the
web for the occasion.
“Tiny monkeys are playing on it. That must be fun,” Joel said, as he
watched them frolic on the strands. “Their bright tuxedos remind me of
Christmas tree lights for they make the crystal glitter. Or is it the other
way around? Wait ‘til I tell Mom.” I wonder if she’s missing me. The fireflies were delighted that Joel was so happy; they
giggled with glee and made their lights flicker faster.
watched the playful monkeys leap, take each other’s hands and swing far
out. Some wrapped their tails around the web and let loose. Joel was
absorbed in their antics.
Music began to play, top lights flickered and an announcer welcomed Joel.
At once he knew that the monkey’s performance was not the total
entertainment. “But I won’t be able to see from down here,” Joel said.
Just then the spider spun a strand of web, tied a special knot at the end,
and lowered it on a pulley. Joel curled up around the knot and hung on. In
no time he was towed up to a high seat in the already-formed web. He sat
among the monkeys who now sat quietly on private strands. The music had
called. “Fun. Now I can see. Thanks,” Joel said from his heart.
Upper lights blinked twice, then became bright to hail the “King of
beasts”. Charming cats, costumed in sparkling sun suits, pranced in behind
him. They stepped lightly and quickly, twisting even as did their batons.
Drums, horns, bells, and bugles set the rhythm. Tigers, dressed in red and
gold uniforms marched in on their hind legs.
“Something is different around here,” Joel said. “They
don’t even seem to be as tall as I am.”
“Remember,” said the spider, “everyone here is tiny,
but we are great.”
As Joel watched the well-trained, and
delightfully-colored performers, he answered the spider. “Yes, you are
great, and it looks like all of this is just for me.” Joel clapped his
hands when he heard the monkeys say in unison, “Yes, just for you. Just for
A spotlight accented the far entrance. As cymbals
crashed, a baby elephant came toward the center stage. Shiny cloth with
fringe on the lower edges draped the elephant’s back. Tiny lights flashed
from the fringes. Their twinkles attracted a baby mouse who dashed onto the
floor where she
could be seen.
“Fancy seeing you here. Hi,” the baby elephant said.
That’s all the mouse needed. She set off running up the
elephant’s leg, out to the tip of his trunk, and whe-e-e! The elephant
lifted her, gave a quick jerk, and right on his back sat the little mouse,
as big as you please.
When monkeys on the web began to clap, the mouse stood
and took a bow. She twirled, danced, and did stunts like an acrobat. Then,
tip-toeing across the back she slid down the elephant’s leg to the floor.
As if to tease, she ran in, out, and around his legs, dashing
helter-skelter. “Cute,” Joel said as she made one bee-line for the exit.
Saying goodbye and thanks for all the cheers, the baby
elephant raised his trunk, twisted it to look like a pretzel, and then did a
quick tapping step with his front feet. Lifting them, he turned, untwisted
his trunk, and pranced around until music gave him his cue to leave.
Cheering continued till the music softened.
As the music picked up tempo a happy bear cub, dressed as
a clown, peeked through the curtain waving both arms. He then entered doing
handsprings until he arrived at the center under a spotlight. Joel screamed
with laughter as he watched the clown bounce into the air, having springs on
the soles of his shoes. He bounced up and down, up and down. The third
time to come down he landed on a pony’s back; the pony had sensed the exact
moment to enter.
“Fun. Wait till I tell Mom,” Joel said
excitedly, as he watched the tiny clown spring in all directions like a
putty ball. “It seems like his feet have the hiccups,” Joel told a spider.
The fireflies got so excited when the clown bounced into
a wagon pulled by a grasshopper. They flickered their lights all at once.
As the grasshopper took a leap the wagon tilted backward, but the clown held
his own. The exit door opened for their one last leap.
“Look,” Joel called out. “A kangaroo is wheeling in on a
bicycle. She has her baby in her pouch. Isn’t that cute?” Joel followed
every movement, and his smile showed deep satisfaction.
Mrs. kangaroo squeezed a bottle and sprayed water on the
flowers tied to the handlebars. It ticked her nose. “That’s funny,” Joel
said aloud. But it wasn’t as funny as seeing baby kangaroo jump from the
pouch, put on skates, and take off at her mother’s side. Holding hands they
went very fast to keep ahead of he clown who came bouncing back through a
side entrance. He lifted the little one into his arms, and made small jumps
into the air. The baby kangaroo laughed and laughed. She had everyone
laughing with her. She was given one extra high jump into the air before
the clown placed her on the floor directing her with one big push. She
rolled right through the opened curtain exit. Waiving to Joel, the clown
did a handspring and bounced right out, followed by Mrs. Kangaroo who
reached for her darling.
“I want to remember this,” said Joel, “and how
the clown was dressed.” Flowers were all over his shirt. His purple and
yellow hat had ornaments that dangled and twirled. His full pants were of
many colors and fit tight around the ankles. He had a big, red felt nose
over his own, yellow hair that flew all over as he jumped, and wide, blue
eyebrows that went part ways under his hat. His eyes lit up every time he
bit on the tube he held in his mouth. “Fun. I’ve got to tell Mom.” I
wonder if she is missing me.”
One special butterfly came to sit on Joel’s shoulder to
tell him the circus was nearly over. What will Mom think if she finds my
bed empty, Joel wondered. But the thought left him when he remembered
there was still more.
The music got louder, fuller, and peppier as everyone
came in to bid farewell and say thanks to Joel for coming. They loved to
The baby Kangaroo, sitting on the shoulder of the clown,
blew a whistle and the began to sing:
Thanks to Joel, our small guest
It has been our pleasure.
Next time come and bring your friends
For fun they cannot measure.
Butterflies began surrounding Joel with wings for protection as he was let
down to the floor by a pulley. “I’m supposed to be sleeping,” he said to
the pure white butterfly who seemed to be the leader. “Can you help me get
back to bed?”
“Yes, of course. That’s why we care here. We know the way. It’s almost
time for sunrise. So let’s go home before someone sees you.”
they traveled, the butterflies flitted in and out, for Joel was pretty slow;
sleep was in his eyes. But, yes, they did make it to his bed on time—on
time before farmer Kirk could report a missing lad. Joel smiled from pure
satisfaction, and thanked his guides for rescuing him.
“That’s the best circus there could ever be, Mom,” said Joel when she
awakened him for breakfast. “I might be a clown when I grow up. I can make
people happy and give them plenty of laughs. I would like that! Yeah,
that’s what I want to be when I grow up.
“When you grow up?” asked Mom. “Would you like me to make you a costume and
get you set up today?”
“Really? Oh, thanks, Mom. I know just what a clown looks like. This will
be fun. I can go out and make other kids happy. That’s what I really want
to do. WOW!
that, he cartwheeled out of bed with a style all his own.
Joel the Clown