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Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

Cape Fear Voices/The Teen Scene

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An Interdimensional Love Story:  Part II


Did you miss Part 1? Click here to read Part 1 first

When Violet opened her eyes, she was enveloped by a cool breeze and the din of foreign voices. He did it, she thought. Garrett sent me to the top of the Eiffel Tower. But as the fog lifted, it was not the city of Paris she saw but an amphitheater filled with cheering spectators. In the stands, she could see men in hats and waistcoats, women wearing petticoats, and small boys in breeches. A rotund man with a megaphone moved around in the circle below, directing the crowd’s attention above. Where am I?

Violet started to take a step when a burly arm grabbed her from behind.  “Pas encoure, ma Cherie!”  (Not yet, my Dear!)  He took her hands in his, rubbed the palms with chalk, then kissed the tops lightly. “You don’t want to slip, ma Cherie,” he said, winking and giving her a pinch on the derriere.

Violet was about to protest when she realized she was standing on a narrow board forty feet above the ground. Another man wearing a bright red leotard was swinging by his knees from a bar attached to overhead cords and motioning to her.   “Grab fly bar when Jules returns,” the burly man instructed with a heavy French accent. “You perform a double somersault and half twist with Jules, then return here to me, your man Bruno. Everyone below clap.”

“Somersault? Twist?”  Violet looked up at the trapeze apparatus and felt dizzy.   “Oh, no, no, not me. There must be some mistake, “she started, but her options were limited. The expectant crowd was now clapping in unison, and Bruno stood like a rock between her and the ladder. She rubbed her hands nervously along her thighs and found them firm and muscular, like in her dance days. Looking down, she admired how her gold, sequined leotard accentuated the length of her limbs. Violet stood taller, shoulders back, and stretched her arms to muster the courage to proceed. It was a power pose she had learned years ago, a movement that suddenly surfaced from the dark crevices of her memory.

“Here we go,” she said, grabbing the fly bar. She kicked out her legs to gain height, and when Jules gave the signal, she released and flipped through the air before landing in his grasp. Wow! So this is what it is like to fly, she thought. To be an eagle soaring beneath the clouds.   Untethered. Free.

 Suddenly, Jules grabbed her by the feet and one arm. “Violet in the angel pose,” the ringmaster announced to the energized crowd.   She and Jules performed a few more aerial tricks before returning to their respective platforms. “Bravo, Bravo, my Cherie,” whispered Bruno, his hand gliding seductively along her back. Violet wasn’t sure what her relationship was to Bruno or Jules in this new world, but it didn’t feel right. During the intermission, she feigned fatigue to escape his clutches.

Resting in a trailer, Violet found a brochure advertising the show. “Cirque Napolean. Paris, 1770.”  She hardly had time to digest this news when Jules stuck his head in the door.  “Il est temps d’y aller!”  (It’s time to go.)  Where they were going wasn’t clear, but Jules carried a long, thin pole and a colorful umbrella.   Before she knew it, they were back on the narrow mount, surveying the crowd.

“Mesdames et Messieurs,” the ringmaster was shouting.  “The beautiful Miss Violet will now walk along a highwire 30 feet in the air without a safety net.”  Violet could hear “Ooohs” and “Ahhhs” from the crowd. Without a safety net? Violet had never been much of a risk taker, but she had Jules at one end and Bruno at the other coaching her through it. Evidently, she was capable of almost anything in this alternate reality, so she stepped onto the taut rope sideways and did a little plie. The crowd clapped, then grew silent.

Using the umbrella for balance, Violet ventured slowly across the highwire in leather-soled ballet slippers. They felt natural and allowed her to grip the wire and inch across, even balance momentarily on one foot. Violet was about a third of the way across when the crowd suddenly started laughing. Out of the corner of one eye, she could see someone below waving his arms. The ringmaster approached, ready to remove the unwanted guest, then stopped when he realized the crowd was eating it up. They thought he was a clown, a part of the act.

Violet tried to focus on her balance but could feel her center of gravity shifting. What is happening? she wondered, looking to Jules for support. He was pointing to his eyes, mouthing something like “concentrate.”  She tried to, but the man below kept waving. Eventually, he took the megaphone from the ringmaster and called up to her.

“Violet, it’s me! Garrett! It’s time to come home!”

She repositioned her feet, raised the umbrella, and looked down at her husband. His bobbing redhead was visible, pacing back and forth below, but he looked small and vulnerable from her elevated perch. Oh, Garrett, you did come, Violet thought with a smile. But she didn’t want to respond, fearing that the effort to expel even an ounce of air would upset her balance. Besides, she was having fun exploring this daring side of herself. No, no, Violet wasn’t quite ready to go home. She continued taking small, dainty steps toward Jules.

The crowd was now egging Garrett on, encouraging him to go after his love. Violet knew Garrett was afraid of heights, so she was surprised to see him approach the ladder and test the first rung. She took another two steps toward Jules, but the audience now was more focused on Garret’s quest to retrieve his wife than on whether she made it to the other side. Sigh. It seemed she would always be the sideshow when Garrett was around.

Violet tried to concentrate, but her usually logical and sensible husband was clinging to the rope ladder, perched precariously on a rung halfway up.    “Violet, please, come home,” Garrett pleaded, pale and trembling. She was about to respond when his left leg suddenly crossed the space between two rungs. Violet watched as he hung helplessly upside down by one knee to the delight of the laughing crowd.

“Garrett! Don’t move! I’m coming!”  Uttering these few words caused her to totter, and she swayed back and forth for several seconds to right herself.   The eyes of the crowd went back and forth between her and Garrett, wondering who was in the more dangerous position.

With the help of two circus weightlifters, Garrett had righted himself and resumed his climb to the platform. He pushed Bruno aside and held out his hands beseechingly. “Violet. I beg you. Come home. I need you.”

Violet had almost reached the other end. She was inches from Jules’s hand but suddenly stopped and looked back at Garrett. “What do you mean by ‘need you,’ Garret? To cook? To clean?”  For several seconds, she swayed in limbo, waiting for his answer, contemplating whether she wanted to return to the way they were in their secure, traditional world. No, she thought, it could never be like that again.

But then she heard him say something more. “I love you, Violet. You’re the best thing that ever happened to me. You’re the ying to my yang, my one and only.”   Without a second thought, Violet scampered back across the wire into his arms. As they kissed, Violet was only vaguely aware of the audience below cheering and applauding. Little by little, their sounds faded, absorbed into a black hole. Violet was leaving the city of love with the love of her life. But she had found her wings and an inner strength that would reset the equilibrium of their marriage.

Part 2 image credits:
Trapeze – Photo by Robert Linder on Unsplash,
Digital bars – Photo by Ari He on Unsplash,
Composite image – Chuck Bins

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About the Contributor
Janet Stiegler
Janet Stiegler, Contributing Writer

Born and raised on Long Island, New York, I attended college at SUNY Albany, where I focused on foreign languages and studied abroad twice (Germany and the then Soviet Union). I met my husband, Paul, in Albany’s Russian program, and we eventually made our way to the Washington D.C. area to work as analysts for the CIA. Over 32 years, we held a series of analytic, managerial, and senior staff jobs while raising two children in Vienna, Virginia. Both attended Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!) and are now well launched into their careers.

The CIA drummed into me the need to write clearly and succinctly since our audience—U.S. policymakers, diplomats, and other decision makers—had busy schedules. Bottom Line Up Front followed by well-supported evidence and credible sourcing. However, it did not leave much room for creativity, which has made writing for Cape Fear Voices (CFV) so gratifying. My writing circle inspires me, and CFV provides a safe place to test literary ideas. One of my ambitions is to write a creative nonfiction story about my maternal grandfather, who immigrated to this country before WWII.

Since moving to Brunswick Forest seven years ago, I’ve also pursued several educational passions--tutoring at the Cape Fear Literacy Council, supporting Cape Fear River Watch’s youth education programs, and helping host online OLLI classes. Three years ago, I joined the Women’s Impact Network, whose philanthropic outreach seeks to benefit our local community. My husband and I have also done a fair amount of international (Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Nova Scotia) and domestic (Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Florida) travel. And last spring, as most travel ground to a halt, we adopted a year-old rescue—Brianna—a proven antidote to the COVID blues.

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    Linda HarootyanFeb 27, 2024 at 1:51 pm

    Loved this 2-part story. It kept me engaged and I wasn’t sure where it was going. Delightful