Mary pulled a bullet out of her jacket, mentally reminding herself to ask the costume department for a new one. Not that they would oblige her. If there was one thing the circus was good at, it was saving money. She would just have to bite the bullet.
The addressed glanced up to see a head of long white-blonde hair bobbing towards her.
“Did you like my show?” Anya asked breathlessly, having just come offstage.
“Uh…” Mary began, “It was…it was nice.”
She wasn’t accustomed to chatting with the other performers. Most of them were either too strange or thought Mary was too strange.
“Just wait until you see the next one.” The acrobat insisted, shifting from one foot to the other with an abundance of energy.
“If it was anything like today’s, it’ll probably be a hit.” Mary replied, remembering the audience’s deafening roar.
“Thanks Mary! Your shows are always amazing. A little creepy, but I like them.” She said, adding the last part quickly.
Mary felt the sight of wet pavement flash in her vision.
Don’t be afraid, chile. The Lor’ loves you, and that love is stronger than fear.
“Thanks…but they’re more my father’s than mine.” Mary said slowly, “He taught me everything I know.”
Anya cocked her head to the side.
“Oh? I guess we have something in common then.” She began, her enthusiasm somewhat deflated, “Most of my tricks came from my sister…”
Mary tried to ignore the hint of grief in the performer’s expression.
“Does she work in the circus?” she asked, “I don’t think I’ve met her.”
There was a brief, uneasy silence before Anya replied.
“No, Sonya, um, she died.” She started, “It was a long time ago. It’s why I joined the circus actually.”
Mary blinked, stunned.
“I’m…I’m so sorry. That must have been really hard for you.”
“You don’t know the half of it.”
Mary felt the eyes return to her mind, the pleading, suffering eyes.
“I’m sure she’s watching over you, wherever she is.”
Anya laughed quietly.
“Most likely. She’s probably telling me when I mess up in my routine like she always did.”
She looked lost in thought for a moment before turning to look at Mary again, clearly eager to change the subject.
“Your dad must be really proud of you.”
Proud. To be forgiven would be enough.
“I’d like to hope he is.” Mary tried to smile, her face paint stretching, “A girl can dream.”
“Has he ever come to see you perform?”
“To the circus?” Mary asked absentmindedly, “No…he never really got the chance, I guess.”
“Oh.” Anya said abruptly, “Um. Is he..?”
Mary remembered the rain.
“Oh I’m sorry Mary.” Anya soothed, “I guess we really are more similar than we thought huh? And it only took us years to figure it out.”
“Yeah. Yeah, I guess you’re right.” she replied, tossing the bullet into the air.
It rose up, arcing gracefully before returning to her palm like a golden bird. A bird of prey.