Summer 2008, #15
       "Convenient Acts of Human Behavior"

With the Greatest of Ease

     by Mia Kammeyer-Mueller

      Our new neighbor Lisa had been a trapeze artist. I don't know why she told me.
              I started to miss her right after she said it. Wouldn't be long before she was gone, my husband along with her. Not that it was her fault; she was a trapeze artist for God's sake.
              We could have been best friends if it weren't for that. 
              I waited two days before I told Henry, over our Monday dinner of steamed rice and broccoli, baked chicken breasts with lemon pepper, and peach sorbet. His spoon stopped midway between his mouth and dessert. He didn't say anything, but when he took his next bite, I saw his eyes make loop-de-loops.
              It went fast after that.
              Despite the revelation, Lisa and I still met for drinks. Or maybe we met because of it. Was there proof of her past, I wondered. A photo, a poster, heavily sequined clothes, netting stretched out in the spare bedroom? Nothing. Still, it was easy to picture her flip mid-air, mid-spotlight, as she--drum roll--caught the hands of her waiting partner.
                Two weeks after I told Henry about Lisa's trapeze past, she invited us to dinner. About time the three of us got together, she said. I had been avoiding this. Henry accepted before I could refuse.
              We laughed and ate and drank too much. Lisa said she had something to show us and disappeared into her bedroom. I noticed the music before Henry did--trumpets and snare drum and pipe organ. Then Lisa tumbling down the hall, shiny in silvery strands, a feathery tiara tucked into her hair.
              Henry clapped and cheered for her floor routine. I marveled at the control she had. 
              That night I dreamt I was under a big top. Lisa hung high above the ground on a trapeze, dangling from her knees. Henry stood on a platform across the way looking bold in red sequins and not at all scared. For their grand finale, Henry would leap, spin, twirl and Lisa would grab him at the last moment and bring him to safety, the entire routine performed without a net. The lights dimmed, the music began, and I watched them swing and flip, criss-crossing in the air. All was quiet but for drum rolls. Henry twisted, turned. He stretched for her hand.
              I woke up before she could catch him.
              Henry was gone by the end of the week, left a note on the fridge trying to explain, but what could he say that I didn't already know? He was gone. He was with Lisa. 
              The day after Henry left, I drove five hours to a carnival--no trapeze, just games and clowns with their painted on faces and fake flowers up their sleeves. I didn't want to feel bad about Henry and Lisa. I knew it was going to happen, but knowing what's going to happen and having it happen are different. Surrounded by clowns, I didn't want to feel like a fool.
              I stayed at the carnival until it closed. No reason for me to get back home. I found the office and asked a woman at the drab metal desk if they were looking for new people. She kept her eyes on her paperwork and asked if I had any talent.
              I told her I could see the future.