Sleight of Hand
This is a rough first draft of my short short story. Tell me what YOU think. Your constructive feedback in appreciated. Disclaimer: all written material is my intellectual property and cannot be reproduced.
It was on a bright, starry night that the traveling circus rolled through town. Bobby stood in front of his window with his silver linking rings. The light from the lamp next to his bed turned the window into a makeshift mirror. He’d been practicing this magic trick for weeks, making sure he could find the place to link them perfectly without anyone noticing. He struggled to hold on to the rings, as they slipped in his sweaty hands. Perfection was his ticket out, so he rubbed his hands off on his jeans and tried again. He felt a low vibration, assuming it was heat-induced hallucinations until his wand started to vibrate on his dresser. He watched the wand fall landing with a soft thud against the rug.
Then, like a whisper, he could hear his name. He poked his head out of his room, but his mother was busy making dinner in the kitchen. Then, he heard his name again accompanied by a tick-tick at the window. He crossed his room in two steps and pulled the window up.
“Bobby! What took you so long?” asked his friend Mike. “The circus is driving through town.”
“Right now. Hurry up and get down here.”
“I’ve got to ask my mom.”
“Hurry before you miss it.”
He ran down the hallway, speeding past the narrow table near the apartment door, bumping into a photo of himself and his parents standing in front of the Adkins’ Hardware store.
“Who, honey?” asked his mother, picking up the picture frame. “You know you’re not supposed to run in the house.”
“Mom! Can I stand on the sidewalk and watch?” He bounced around, pressing his forehead against the screen for a glimpse.
“Watch what?” She pulled the curtain back from the window to see what the fuss was about. She couldn’t see anything except neighbors filling the sidewalks.
“Mikhail the Magnificent’s Traveling Circus Spectacular!”
“You know your father’s rule,” she said, dropping the curtain. “You’re soaked. You need to stop closing the window in your room.
He batted her hand away from his face. She turned away and he followed her into the kitchen. “But Mom, we only have one more week left of school. I’ll stay on the sidewalk. I promise. And come back up when they’re gone.”
“You and I both know you have a tendency to wander off.” She poured salad dressing into a large bowl. “Fix yourself a glass of ice water before you faint.”
He stomped his foot. “Come on, Mom.” He walked to her side, placing his hands on her arm. “You can come down with me and keep an eye on me.”
He reached into the colander in the sink, grabbing macaroni. She tried to slap his hand, but he laughed and danced away from her as he popped the handful into his mouth. “I need to finish making dinner. Your father will be coming up soon.”
“Yeah, yeah. Father doesn’t like to wait for dinner.”
“You had better watch that smart mouth. Besides, the window is just as good.”
His shoulders were heavy with disappointment as he dragged himself to the window to tell Mike he couldn’t come down. He watched as the big red moving truck with yellow script painted on the side lead the procession of colorful excitement. Clowns were walking next to all the trailers passing out flyers to all the residents standing on the sidewalks. Other members were hanging out the doors of the Streamline trailers waving. The animals were announcing their arrival too.
After that night’s disastrous dinner, Bobby sat in his room staring at the flyer he kept in his pocket all week. Worn and ripped, but he could still read Mikhail’s name.
“Father, could we go see the circus this weekend?”
“Robert, you need to grow up. We don’t have the money. Besides, I need you down in the store.”
“I don’t want to sell hardware. I want to perform my magic tricks.”
“Son, you need to get your head out of the clouds. That magic stuff is nothing but nonsense. You belong in the store.”
Tonight was his chance to escape his father’s fate. He quietly packed a bag with clothes and his magic supplies. He patiently waited for the perfect moment to slip through the front door.
The next morning, Bobby’s mother walked down the hallway and paused in front of his closed door. It was silent. “Bobby, you need to get up. You’ll be late for school.” She knocked and entered. A folded piece of paper lay on his bed. She picked it up and sat down. His words caused tears to run down her face.
“Where’s the boy?” his father asked, walking into the room.
She handed him the letter.
Thanks for reading. The entire piece needs to shed at least 40 words. What did you like? What should stay in the story? Did sections lag? What was missing? What could the story do without?