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Kate Barton


I ran my finger along the lid of the smooth maroon box. Marvelling the intricate design elegantly carved upon its well furnished surface. It was the present I had been waiting for my whole life… Trust. You may not be able to conceal such a thing in a box, even the majestic one that lies before me. But you can conceal the pleasures that come with such a gift, in a container of any shape or size.

My family crowds around the table, their faces eager and impatient. They know that I know what lies inside the box, so why are my hands trembling with anticipation, as I undo the box’s fiddly golden clasp? It’s all there, no surprises just the biggest step to fulfilling my dream: five batons, a jumbo box of matches and a small pot of phosphorous. Yes, I’m going to be the greatest, most daring, most extraordinary fire juggler the world has ever seen!

My family has worked in the performing arts of the circus forever. The troop together covers everything from acrobatics to shooting yourself out of a cannon. I can already juggle, such a skill comes naturally, runs in the blood but apparently being egotistical is another family trait.

Our caravans are parked in a quiet, idyllic clearing in the wood. The floor is scattered with crisp auburn leaves, the trees surrounding stripped of their gowns left only with picturesque flowers slowly wilting at their feet. I was alone everyone else was setting up the big top for tonight’s performance of which me and my flaming batons were doubtlessly the star attraction.

I firmly placed my feet on the ground, letting my worries seep away with the evening’s light breeze. I covered one end of the batons with a light dusting of phosphorus, struck a match and put it to one of the baton heads. Flames now licked the end of each baton twisting and turning like malicious fingers, desperately trying to entwine with my own slightly singed hands that firmly griped the bunch of batons.

Taking a deep breath I threw them into the air, within seconds there’s memorising, flowing cascade of fire above my head. As I simply toss the batons into the air from hand to hand a large smile stretched over my face.

I wouldn’t have noticed that I was now only juggling four batons instead of five if it weren’t for the growing carpet of fire at my feet.

Smoke stung my eyes its acrid taste overwhelming. I took a fleeting glance around me my eyes sweeping over my surroundings, my last essence of hope shrivelling up inside me.

Suddenly I spotted it at the edge of the clearing…..Dad’s cannon. After seeing many performances it took me mere seconds to safely strap myself in and pull the lever. My singed clothing brushed the tree tops, was I going to make it?


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