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the white table

The days are not long. The nights are short. Guitars are hiding in cases, with scraps of paper tucked inside. The pen is full. There is a fresh notebook, with creamy pages. The little white desk is in the middle of the living room, a cascade of receipts and laundry perched on it.

I clean it off, have lunch as it stares back at me. This focal point, this fulcrum where my thoughts become real, this cheap folding table from Ikea. It is familiar, and patient.

running away with the circus (looking for dolphins)


There are three of them, a brazen woman with bright eyes and a big voice, a man going grey with a hop in his step and a younger woman who might be their daughter or their niece that twists her short hair into little tufts. They roam the hotel, sometimes in elaborate costumes, letting us know that there will be a secret dance party near the ballroom in an hour.

The older woman strolls in during dinner in a costume of blinking Christmas lights and exotic face paint. V stares up at her, convinced she is a princess or a fairy or maybe both. The next night, she is all in black, great horns wobbling on her head. She always has a pair of black Converse high tops on, as if they go with every costume or maybe they are the only shoes she owns.

The man is typically dressed as a pirate, in a striped shirt, maybe an eye patch. He is perfectly relaxed, like his limbs are made of silly straws. The younger woman is always smiling, her mouth a wall of metal braces and lip gloss. I imagine they sleep in a collection of magnificent hammocks - looking up at the stars before they close their eyes.

I see them on the beach one morning, all staring off into the horizon, halfway through the construction of a giant sand castle. They tell us that they see dolphins. This is their job, to "animate" - to have fun, and share in the process of dancing in the sand for reluctant guests. Sometimes I cannot tell if they are working, as they roam the hotel, or if they are just on their own private adventures. I wonder if this is as close as a person can get to running away with the circus. The glitter, the roar, the elbows raised in wild dance steps, it all seems like a perfect show to do anyplace, anywhere. They seem happy. Their laughs are real, heads tilted back, throats wide, echoing around each room and corridor.

Like any clown, I think I might not recognise them if I passed them on the street in Moscow, or New York. I can only see them when there are splashes of glitter on their cheeks, when they are appearing as if out of nowhere, lights blinking, eyelashes as long as a peacock's feathers.

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