I don’t hear Isolation go, but I hear Ema return.
-Screamer, look at me.
Her eyes are green.
-Screamer, would you drink this? And she hands me water.
I take it.
Sit up easily.
Down the glass.
It soothes my throat after singing.
I miss Isolation already.
Ema takes my arm, urges me to get to my feet.
Helps me avoid my sick.
Outside is cold and dark but I sweat instead.
She has my hand and walks me slowly over to the main tent.
There are people I do not recognise.
At first, I think it is Ema speaking, but she looks confused.
So I look around.
Red hair dances around soft shoulders like a child.
Or a lover.
It is the portaloo girl.
-Did you find them alright? I say.
-The… yes… she says, -thank you. I heard you collapsed.
Ema is looking at me, ignoring the girl. I think she wants me to hurry up. Her green eyes are urgent.
-Not really. I say again. I eye Ema back.
-How are you feeling? The girl is concerned.
She touches my arm.
I retract it quickly.
She does the same.
-I’m fine. I say.
Now Ema is looking around me slightly at where the girl is, but her eyes are darting around.
I look sideways at her.
For a long time.
She eventually meets my eyes.
-Screamer, he says, how are you?
Why do they keep asking me the
-He’s not. Ema says. Looks at me strangely.
-Hospital? Ira says.
Ema shrugs, -I hope not.
-We probably should. He could have a concussion.
-I think he does. Says Ema.
Stop putting words
I can speak for
thank you Ira and Ema.
I am angry now.
-He’s talking to… Ema says, glancing quickly out of the sides of her eyes at where portaloo girl is.
-I’m… she stumbles and looks at me.
I look at her.
I don’t know what she wants from me.
-I talked to him… she points at me, -earlier.
Ira doesn’t seem to hear her and looks at Ema. They have a conversation.
Not out loud.
But with their eyes.
Portaloo girl looks at me now and I shrug.
-He uh, says portaloo girl, he kind of shouted at me. Is that normal?
-Yes. I say.
Ema and Ira look at me.
Portaloo girl nods.
It is normal. They don’t say it is. They don’t say anything.
Anything at all.
This annoys me more.
For some reason.
Ira nods at me. –Are you sure you’re not concussed?
-Yes. I say. Angrily.
-Would you mind coming to hospital later though, Ema? We might be dealing with… a concussion, Ira says. -You’re good at controlling him.
Ema shrugs and nods.
-Why, do you want her to stay here?
I don’t really.
I just don’t know which side Ema is on, mine or Ira’s. I don’t know if I want her near me.
I certainly don’t want Ira with me.
But he’s taking me.
And I don’t know about Ema.
They’re irritating me.
Ira looks at Ema, and she shrugs, but he doesn’t.
He eventually shakes his head.
-I think Ema should come.
I feel portaloo girl’s hair on my arm and touch my arm where it touched me.
-I want her to STAY here. Right HERE.
Portaloo girl jumps. Looks back at the conversation.
-She’s coming, Screamer. Ira glares at me. –She is coming.
I cannot argue. I’m going off to hospital. With Ira. And Ema.
-Apparently I’m going off to hospital. With Ira. And Ema. I inform portaloo girl. –You can’t come with us.
-No? she says. –Well that’s okay. I just… wanted to check on you.
She looks at me in surprise. Blinks. Green eyes like mine.
Ema and Ira, beside me, look confused at my new conversation.
But they leave me to it and don’t interrupt.
Have another eye conversation.
-Go. I tell her again.
But turns to leave.
-Okay now? Ira says, and there is something in his voice I don’t like. –We’ll all three go. But we need to talk to you first.
Ema sighs. –Screamer, please listen.
Whose side are you on, Miss Director?
-I don’t want to listen. I fold my arms.
-You don’t listen now, you’ll certainly be listening later. Let’s not waste time here. Says Ira.
Ema touches my arm. Her touch is not as soft as portaloo girl’s hair.
I look at her.
Her eyes tell me to listen.
And I can’t find any way to not listen.
I look at Ira.
His eyes are the same as hers.
Violet, instead of green, but certainly with the same glare.
-Listening? He says. Firmly. Dangerously.
I growl to myself.
I hate how they treat me
to how they treat everyone else.
Can I not be the
Ira leads us away, wrapping a strong hand around my arm. He will cut off the blood.
Then maybe my arm will fall off and I can make a big deal of it.
Then how sorry will he feel?
-Screamer, we told you not to come into the tent like that. He says without looking behind him and he sounds angry at me like it’s my fault like I can’t go wherever I want to in my own circus?
Ema follows along behind me, and I don’t know what she’s thinking, whether she is agreeing with her brother or not. She does not seem particularly happy but not in the way Ira isn’t particularly happy, because I think he is angry, but I think she is sad.
I catch her eye as we stop walking, having arrived at the main tent entrance.
She looks at me as I look at her and we don’t say anything to each other.
Then she looks at the floor.
-Screamer, says Ira, look at me. Look at me, Screamer.
I don’t want to.
He makes me though, and his violet eyes are hard. –Why did you come in?
-Ira. Ema puts her hand on him and tries to move him away from me but he doesn’t let her and he comes back close to me.
-You kind of almost ruined the circus. Heckler got really distracted.
-Heckler has cataracts.
-No, Screamer, he doesn’t. Says Ema. Just listen to Ira, okay?
Is she on my side? I can’t really tell.
Ira isn’t though and I can tell he wants to shout at me but he doesn’t want to set me off shaking again. I wish he would just shout at me. He would shout at anyone else. But since it’s me he has to treat me
different from everyone else.
-So why did you come in? Did you do it just to mess up the tone of the show? Do you know how hard the A’Lonzes practiced for that? It all could have gone wrong because you came in. His tone is like a supressed scream and I know he wants to shout at me.
I want to make him so I don’t say anything and just keep looking into his eyes.
-Caelan really wants to speak to you as well.
-Speak to me, I say, or shout at me?
-Not shout at you, says Ira, but he’s lying. Caelan will be doing the same as him, hiding the anger and the shrieking voice inside his body and not showing them to me even though I can see it in his eyes and hear it in the way he says my name as Ira steers me into the tent. Ema follows me, and I think she’s on my side. Though I don’t know. And I don’t know what to think of the look in her eyes.
Caelan’s anger is harder for him to reign in but he apparently is still determined to treat me like a china teacup. I end up showing my anger more than he does.
I don’t know if Caelan can see it but Ira can.
Ema, behind me, can.
I know I can.
My teeth begin to hurt they are clenched so hard and my nails dig into my palms and I want to let go and relax but my body is taut now and impossible to make loose again. So I stand trembling in front of Caelan as he “speaks” to me.
I don’t even know what he’s saying.
He could be speaking in Finnish for all I know.
I am deaf to him and aware only of the situation.
How much I hate the situation.
How much he hates me.
How much I hate myself for being
Why must I be