"He's making you what!?" I exclaim.
William, Eloise, and I are sitting in the trailer that I share with Mason, a fiew breather. Eloise is cross-legged on the floor, clutching her Barbie doll, and William and I are seated on my bed.
"Look, Jingo. I don't want to upset him," the eighteen year-old says, smoothing out my blue and white checkered bed sheets.
"But William! You know that's wrong! It's stealing!" I cry out.
I can't believe William actually wants to go through with this. But even moreso, I can't understand why the ring master wants to do this. The circus has never been about money to him.
Eloise pauses her game of Barbie, and looks up at us with wide eyes. I can tell by her face that she understands the situation.
"I don't have a choice," William says grimly, still refusing to look me in the eyes.
A fly buzzes past my ear and lands on the off-white wall next to me. My box-spring mattress groans as William stands up. If only I could make him see that there's more to life than the circus.
Eloise pipes up, "You always have a choice, William. That's what you told me."
Her blue eyes, sparkling with innocence, are locked onto William's, trying desperately to get him to believe his own words.
"Eloise, I have to be realistic. I'm eighteen, and I've never been to high school. I'm stuck here. This is my only option."
"William--" I try to cut in.
"Enough, Jingo! I'm going to do what dad asked of me. End of discussion."
"I can't just stand by and do nothing about this!"
I stand up from my bed and clench my fists, staring hard at William. He doesn't return my gaze.
"Jingo, I'm sorry. But this is the way it has to be."
With that said, William takes his leave. A slight mist has begun outside, and it's dreadfully humid in the trailer. I quickly switch on the fan in the corner and plop back down on my bed. The fly buzzes by my ear again, and this time I hastily lash out at it. I miss. It flies to the other side of the trailer.
"Jingo, what're we gonna do?" Eloise asks, a fat tear rolling down her pale cheek.
"I don't know," I reply, still feeling a bit numb with frustration.
William is betraying everything he stands for! Not only that, but he's betraying me and Eloise, too.
Eloise stands up and makes her way over to me while smoothing her Barbie's hair. Fresh tears shimmer in her eyes as she sits down next to me.
"Is William gonna ruin his life?" she asks in a whisper, her chin quivering.
My heart breaks for the ten year-old. William and me, well, we must be the closest thing she's ever had to family. And now she must feel like William's abandoning her, the same way I feel.
I reach out my arms and wrap them around her shoulders, and she lays her head on me.
Wiping a strand of blonde hair from her tearful face, I say, "No, baby. No. We'll make sure of that."