55 - Just to Make It Real

Submitted by Ken Watts on Wed, 03/21/2007 - 13:32
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That same afternoon, William was sitting in his library in front of some new designs.

He wasn't thinking about the designs, though. He was remembering again—reliving the day his father had visited his boyhood circus.

* * * * *

He and Sam had dragged his dad on a tour of the entire project. They had insisted that he look at every attraction, listen to all of their plans, sample their lemonade and cookies. It was unusual for his father to be home, and William wanted very much to impress him while he had the chance.

When the tour was over, Sam wandered off, and William and his father sat at a card table in the field, drinking lemonade. William leaned back in his chair, his hands clasped behind his head, doing his impression of a successful businessman—relaxed, confident, even a bit proud.

Inside he was a mess, waiting in dread and hope for his father's pronouncement.

He waited.

His father took a sip of lemonade, his eyes surveying the field.

"It's a great circus, Son."

Ecstasy. Vindication. Pride. Joy…

"Mind if I look at your books?"

…Panic.

He tilted his chair back onto all four legs.

"Books?"

His father smiled, a little indulgently.

"Your records," he said. "How much everything cost, how much money you charged. How much you made. I saw you were charging at the gate."

A rising fear.

"That was just to make it, you know, real. We only charged a penny."

His dad nodded.

"How will you pay for the materials?"

Guilt.

"It was stuff from around the house. Mom said it would be all right."

He was disappointed. William could tell.

"It's okay, Will. You're just a kid…"

A touch of shame.

"…But you should think about it. A circus that makes no profit won't be around very long in the real world."

William hung his head.

"I'm sorry, I was just…"

His father interrupted.

"Don't worry about it, Son. I said it was okay."

* * * * *

Julie stood in the doorway of William's study, waiting for him to speak. She had thought, at first, that he would look up in a moment, and see her there, but as time went on she began to wonder.

There was a point at which it became embarrassing to just stand there, and she was tempted to just slip away. But what if he looked up, just as she started to leave?

No. She should knock, or say something.

She cleared her throat.