After a moment she felt embarrassed and decided to leave him alone. Stepping out the sky was darker than she had expected. Clouds were coming in. Slowly, thoughtfully Sarah walked down the sidewalk. In her mind she was constructing a letter to her daughter. She would be getting out of jail in the next couple of days and would need a place to stay. Maybe it was time for her to begin restoration with Michelle. As Sarah carefully crafted the letter in her mind, she crossed the street. Suddenly, she was startled out of her imagination by a car slamming on its brakes. For a moment Sarah did not breathe as the car came to a sudden stop. Lightly touching the hood, Sarah waved in embarrassment and prayed a prayer of thanks for good brakes.
Fredrick stepped out of his car that was parked mostly on the driveway. He wiped his eyes and stumbled toward the front door. At one point in his life he had been a great showman. People would applaud him as he introduced acts that astounded and amazed them. As the ringmaster he was always the center of attention. Now he worked in the storeroom of a discount tire store. With the exception of his boss and a couple of co-workers most would not even notice if he did not come to work. He was pretty sure that no one knew that he usually took long lunches where he could put away a few drinks and forget how far he had fallen. After work he would stop by the bar on the corner and tell stories of wild love affairs and life on the road. In the bar he again was the center of attention and he loved it. In the bar he felt his life was complete. The events of the big top always went on perfectly with no mishaps and everything going exactly as it was planned. In his more sober moments he knew that was not the reality. Almost every night something would go wrong and Fredrick was good at hiding that from the audience. Most who watched the show never knew about the injuries, the broken relationships and the pain of the circus. It was his job to make sure they never knew.
Halfway up the sidewalk Fredrick stopped. Something was different. The lights were not on. In fact there were no lights on. In his drunken state his mind was too cloudy to make any sense of things. Again he tried to find his way to the front door. Stumbling over a garden gnome, Fredrick stopped again to try to figure out what was going on. He had an innate sense of when there was trouble and every fiber of his being was screaming out that he should get back in his car and drive away quickly. Taking a deep breath though he spoke out into the darkness, “I am the ringmaster. I control what happens here. I am in charge.” He laughed to himself again and tripped up the three stairs and turned the doorknob. Nothing. It was locked. He looked carefully at the house number and tried to remember if the numbers matched his house.
Reaching into his pockets he found his keys and first tried the car key and that didn’t work. Then he tried one of his office keys. Nothing. Finally he tried the house key. It slid in but it would not turn. He scratched his head and tried again. Again it simply would not work. It was two in the morning. He was hoping to sneak into the house so that Rosie would not even know when he got in. The plan had been to tell Rosie that he had to work late. Big tire sale coming! But if he knocked on the door Rosie would know that he had been out drinking. Shame covered him. He tried the key again.
Sitting behind the door, Rosie listened to him. She had fallen asleep many times but had been jarred awake by her husband’s brake and the flurry of cursing that came from his mouth when he tripped over the gnome. She trembled in fear. Rosie could feel her resolve weakening as she listened to him debating what to do with himself.
Fredrick sat down next to the big oak tree in the front yard to ponder his options. After a few moments he fell asleep. Rosie too fell asleep resting against the door, tears had stained her face.
Sarah stared at the computer screen. The words were written in her head so easily but somehow they were just not coming as they had the night before. Last night her words were romantic and powerful. They were filled with just the right amount of grace and truth. She was proud of her words. But now all that came to her mind was mush. There were no words. How could her relationship with Michelle deteriorate into a contract? Her heart broke multiple times but she got it written .