The night the fish ate the circus

My niece asked me to post this drawing I made for her and her sister several years ago. It came from a dream I had in which my nieces and I were called up onto the stage of a circus. (Had we seen Cirque du Soleil yet? I’m not sure.)

The dream was fun, perhaps inspired by my childhood desire to run away with the circus, a desire which had been fueled by the Disney movie, Toby Tyler. (Mr. Stubbs! Mr. Stubbs! I want to run away with you!) Then, what luck for a day dreaming 10-year old! A troupe of traveling circus performers set up a little ring in a nearby vacant lot and parked their travel trailers in our neighborhood.

My parents romantically called it a Gypsy circus. Where they really Rom? I don’t know. But, gypsy or not, they were fascinating. And when one of the little circus boys told me that he couldn’t play after dinner because he had to go do his chores—he had to feed the elephant!—I packed a hairbrush and a pair of clean underwear in my lunchbox, knocked on their trailer door, and told his mother I was running away with them to join the circus.

She was wiping a dish with a plain dishrag. She didn’t smile.  “You have a good family,” she said. “Go home.” And she closed the door in my face.

That was pretty much the end of my Toby Tyler aspirations. The next morning the circus was gone before I caught the school bus.

But dreams are a different act. In my calliope-filled dream of ringmasters in bird costumes and camels and strong men, lions and magicians, the music played and the crowd roared at our antics on stage. Then that little blue fish that you see in the bottom corner? He suddenly became a big fish. He opened his mouth and -slurp!- sucked the whole circus into his belly. And I woke up, brain on fire to draw this scene before it faded into the mental attic where dreams gather dust.

Know of a good circus? Leave a link in the comments.

2 thoughts on “The night the fish ate the circus

  1. What a brave child you were—to actually pack and go knocking on the door! I, too, love the circus (and your fanciful drawing and dream-telling!).

    1. Chris, not so brave, really. More foolish. I don’t think I thought I was running away from home so much as applying for job with the circus. I still love a circus, even the clowns. And thank you for your kind words!

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