• Linda Nygard

Lourdes & Maria

Lourdes the gymnast fastened her slippers and tugged on her tights, stretching them tighter over her thighs. Her costume colors varied from show to show. Today her leotard was a bright yellow, the tights were sunny orange and the slippers were vibrant red.


Her routine was simple, at least simple for Lourdes. Most gymnasts performed the typical routines that were seen under many a Big Top. But Lourdes added a twist. She would execute a handstand on a large ball and proceed to “walk” the ball around the ring. The dismount was easy by her standards. She would go from a handstand, into a back bend, landing on the floor upright with a wave to the audience.


Somedays Lourdes would bring her miniature poodle out. He would run the perimeter of the ring then jump on to her feet as she was in full handstand on the ball. The kids in the audience loved the addition of “Fluff” to the routine. At the end out their performance, Lourdes walked Fluff in front of the audience so that the children could reach out and give the little dog a pat on the head.


Lourdes would retire to her tent behind the big top and slip a cotton shift over her head. She would remove her slippers and replace them with thick wooly socks, then sink into the cushy fainting couch. That was after she spoiled little “Fluff” with his favorite can of wet food.


This day Loardes had a special visitor from her hometown of San Diego . Maria her cousin, twice removed, on her mothers side.


Lourdes, please pass on a good word for me.” Maria said. “You know I have the experience.”


“Yes. But I know what you were doing last summer.” Lourdes replied to Maria. “You were recovering from the broken leg that you got from that tumble you took with that “other” circus.


“You don’t need to tell them I took a fall.” Maria begged. “Just tell them I was performing with the Brothers Big Top last spring. Please give me a chance. I could use the break.”


Lourdes refastened her red slippers and brushed off the sleeves of her bright yellow leotard.


“Your behavior will be on me as you know. And, of course, I cannot afford to have someone reflect bad on me.” Loardes tugged, again, at her orange tights and sighed.


“Prima, I will perform with the utmost of care, and I will behave with the highest of standards.” Maria replied.


“Let me speak with The Big Man and see what he says.” Lourdes said as she turned for the opening to her tent. “You stay here until I return”.


Maria was nervous. She needed a job, and the circus was all that she knew. Ever since her uncle taught her how to ride a bicycle, while standing on the seat, she knew she was destined for the spotlight.


Lourdes burst back into the tent. “Prima!” She exclaimed. “You have a job with our circus!”

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