11th September

A Dream of Insecurities

They were sitting in big armchairs in a circle in the middle of a dusty school gym: Arthur, Sarah and Martin, and a man with a neatly trimmed beard whose face was familiar. I didn’t realise I was part of the meeting until Arthur, looking directly at me, asked if we were all up to speed on everything. Martin and Sarah said they were. The notebook on my knee was blank but I said I was too. I added that I’d have to leave soon because I had a stack of work to get through. Arthur said, ‘That’s fine, just go when you need to.’ He was very focused. We knew his wife was dying but nobody mentioned it.

The problem was: how to save the National Circus. That was why I recognised the man with the beard: he was the ringmaster. I looked around for his top hat but couldn’t see it. Arthur suggested there might be scope for linking up with other circuses. Sarah said, ‘Maybe we have to examine what a circus is for.’ Martin seemed unhappy and the ringmaster was angry. Nobody was taking minutes of the meeting. I closed my notebook and put it quietly away in case that was supposed to be my job. The ringmaster said, ‘An industry is not one hundred people all doing the same thing. An industry can be one person with one idea.’

I said I’d be back soon. They were still talking when I slipped out. I found the car and drove the sixty miles home. The roads were greasy. When I arrived people were sitting on the stairs discussing matters of great importance. I picked my way past them carrying a full kettle. The courtyard was wet and I was in my socks. I had to go back up the stairs to get my shoes from the car. By the time I returned someone had moved the kettle. I took it to my room. The door was open. I knew I had locked it. My mail was in a neat pile. Someone had been in there. I had so much to do, so many things to organise. I felt guilty and inadequate.

Reader: Iona Zajac
Fiddle: Aidan O'Rourke
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