It was only at the end when I realized I loved you.
We were breaking down the tent, pulling up stakes and cleaning syrup from the pavement. Crumpled napkins rolled through the bleachers like mustard-smeared tumbleweeds and bees buzzed around trash cans smelling of sickly sweet vomit and(more) sour milk.
No matter our stations, everyone cleaned.
I was still in my costume, too tired to go back up to my trailer to change into something more suitable. In all honesty, I felt comfortable in my leotard- my paint and my pageantry. This character I portrayed was preferable to the real me. The real me you keep trying to find blushing beneath the make-up while rolling an eye and pretending it's nothing more than a fling. I built this wall, brick by brick, and I'll be damned if you climb over it.
"Where will you go?" you ask me.
"Nova Scotia." It's a lie, but you'll believe it. It's where I came from.
"Why not come with me?"
I look down at my hands and hope you don't see them tremble. I want to say, "Okay. I'll go where ever you go." But my life's not that simple. You don't know about the pills under my bed, the sleepless nights and the numerous visits to oncology those days after I fell. I come by performing naturally.
Now it's all coming to an end. My ribs are starting to stand out like the bars of the lion's cage and my heart can't take the strain of your presence- pounding, pounding. What will you say when my hair falls out and my face is bare?
Next year you'll take your place in the spot light, your hand in another's, and I'll be the ghost watching on the stage.