Sneak Peak at Under the Big Top

Here is preview of what I’ve been working on. I see it as an upper middle grade, I’m thinking ages 11-13. Here is a portion of the first chapter. I would love to hear from you too. What are your thoughts?

. . . A high musical burst of sound echoed across the tent. A one, two, three beat; and her performance began. She took the first few steps holding a long pole to balance, stepping in time to the jaunty beat. Once she arrived at the middle the men tread gently off the platform, each carrying his own pole. In the middle the woman balanced on one foot. She gracefully pirouetted while lowering her nose to her knees. The crowd gasped. Even Ruby Green’s heart pounded though she saw her mother do this routine several times a week. Her father insisted that using a net would dilute the thrill for audiences. “Il n’y a pas des fume sans feu.” Her father would say. Her father loved proverbs, he collected them, like some men collected stamps or old books. This one meant, there’s no smoke without fire. The woman rotated until she stood parallel to the wire and lowered her leg. By this time the men stood next to her, they swung their poles so that each had hold of both poles and the woman stood in the center. They secured the poles into fasteners on their fitted vests and focused on balance. She placed her pole perpendicularly across theirs and pulled herself to a handstand, balancing on the pole. With her legs spread into splits in the air, she raised one arm behind her head. She held the pose, so still she might have been carved of marble. The crowd peeled forth into raucous applause.

Then it happened, too quickly. The strap of the younger man’s vest, the part supporting the beam slipped, ever. The beam collapsed and the group struggled to regain balance. The men toppled, one managing to grasp the line by a knee then a groped fist. The older man regained his balance. He looked to see the woman flailing and pushed her into the wire. She grasped it under her arms. Her hands searched for his grip, she stretched her feet for him to grab on to, but he flailed beyond her reach.

Someone screamed so close to Ruby that her ears rang. The scene replayed in Ruby’s mind over and over again. He fell, went back to the top, and fell again. Then it happened again. A long, loud scream reverberated in Ruby’s ears? Ruby wished it would stop. Why did the man fall over and over again? Ruby’s throat felt scratchy and she just wanted everyone quiet so she could figure this problem out. A set of long sequined arms grasped her around the middle; the costume fabric rubbing abrasively against her midsection. The arms pulled her away. Ruby looked again. She wondered why her Father lay sideways on the ground, a tangle of crooked limbs. Her brothers huddled over him crying. Ruby fought the arms; she needed to get a better look. It couldn’t really be her disciplined father. The screaming went on, burning her eardrums. Would someone just SHUT UP!! The arms didn’t let her go and her throat ached dully. Something inside her head clicked. Ruby felt herself wailing. Her voice sputtered, and she found herself unable to utter any sound. She just kept waiting to be woken up from the terrible dream, but this wasn’t a dream.

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