Susan threw the front door open. “We’re going to have a neighborhood circus.”
Mom picked up the book she dropped. “Close the door, dear.”
“I’m going to be the ringmaster, because it was my idea.” Susan grinned and slammed the door shut. “You’re coming, right? Everyone has to come watch.”
“Where did you get the idea? You’ve never been to a circus,” Mom said. She flipped through her book, trying to find her lost place.
“Grandpa told us all about them,” Susan said.
Mom lowered the book. “Who’s us? And what did Grandpa tell you?”
“Just the kids in the neighborhood. You know. And Grandpa told us all about how there’s lots of acts and animals and stuff. It’ll be a surprise.” Susan opened the closet door. “Can I borrow your red coat?”
“When is your performance?” Mom asked.
“Tonight at seven.” Susan took the long red coat off the hanger. “Hmmm. It drags on the ground a bit. Maybe if I wore a belt over it and kind of tucked it up?”
“Where?” Mom asked.
Susan opened the front door. “Here. In the backyard.” Then she darted out the front door and slammed it shut.
“Susan!” Mom said. But Susan was gone.
Mom called Grandpa right away, of course. As usual, he convinced her that this was a great idea. “I’ll even find enough lawn furniture for everyone,” he said.
“How many people is everyone?” Mom asked.
“Not all that many,” Grandpa said. “Definitely less than fifty. I think. Well, I’d better go ask around for furniture. Could you be in charge of the refreshments? Popcorn and circus peanuts, right?”
“Those marshmallow things? Do they even sell those anymore?”
Grandpa laughed. “Of course they do.”
“I’m not buying them,” Mom said. “But I will make popcorn.”
And so, the stage was set. A few neighborhood families gathered and sat in Susan’s backyard on borrowed lawn furniture and ate popcorn packaged in sandwich bags. It was time for the neighborhood circus to begin.
The children rode in on tricycles in a straight line. They went around the yard once. The audience applauded. At that point, Alex, who was in the middle, refused to peddle anymore and everyone had to go around him to leave the stage. Alex stood up and pushed his tricycle to the side.
Susan nearly tripped over her mom’s coat. She stepped on it. “No grass stains,” Mom said. Susan ignored her.
“Welcome to the greatest show ever,” Susan said. “First we have firewalking.”
“No you won’t,” Mom said.
“Well then, are you ready Alex?” Susan yelled.
Alex waved from an upstairs window.
“Alex is going to dangle from the edge of the roof with no net,” Susan said.
“No he’s not,” Mom said. “Alex, close the window and come down the stairs.”
Alex closed the window.
“Fine. Next we have the cat tamers,” Susan said.
Three little girls stepped through the gate, trailing yarn behind them. Two cats followed.
The girls started running in loops as the cats followed.
“Where’s Mipsy?” Susan whispered. The girls shrugged. When one of the cats darted off to chase a squirrel, the girls bowed. The audience cheered.
“And now, the clowns,” Susan said.
Two very scary clowns came in through the gate. A small child shrieked. “Nope,” Mom said. She shooed the clowns back out.
Susan sighed. “Now David is going to juggle kitchen knives,” she said.
“I don’t think so,” Mom said. “Let’s have the parade again. I think the circus is done.”
And that was the end of the neighborhood circus.
Grandpa looked in through the gate. “It’s over all ready? What about my act?”
“I’ll help you gather up the lawn furniture when everyone is done chatting,” Mom said. “I think next time you need to check into what the acts are. Some of them were much too dangerous.”
“But I was going to shoot arrows at a target blindfolded,” Grandpa said. “I’d been looking forward to it. I think it would have gone great.”
“All right,” Mom said. “Next time I am checking into the acts.”