Dear Wigleaf,

I have a friend who has a friend who went to circus school. She was an acrobat. Her husband went to circus school, too, but I'm not sure what he did. Maybe he worked with animals. Maybe he swallowed swords or fire. They attended this circus school after they attended regular college, where they'd met my friend. All of them, I think, majored in English. This was in Illinois, not so far from here. They'd all had as a professor a writer who might have been a genius and later, after he'd become more famous and left Illinois, killed himself. When I lived in the same city as this friend of mine, I thought I might meet this couple and ask them about circus school. My friend had said they'd become completely dedicated, that they were approaching their circus craft as if it were religion. They'd begun eschewing other ways of living, calling my friend, who worked for a university and was engaged to be married, a bourgie. I wanted to ask this couple questions about their devotion. I wanted to know how many hours each day the woman worked on her flexibility, and what it felt like to let go of that bar and fly through air. I wanted to find out what talent the guy was developing, what he'd learned at circus school. Secretly, though, I mostly hoped I'd learn that the guy was just some hanger-on, in love with a girl with thick calluses on her hands who, when she wasn't tumbling through the rafters, could lie on her stomach and bring her feet around until they were flat on the ground, just inches from her face.



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Read CS's story, "The Rowan House."

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