Jerome walked the grounds of the circus - one hand in his pocket, kicking dirt. He was bored as usual. There really wasn't much to do that he hadn't done a hundred times already.
Haly's circus was in Gotham, and he didn't know the city too well. Whenever they rolled through small towns, Jerome would venture out more, but Gotham was a big and dangerous city, and the boy was a little unsure about exploring it. Maybe tomorrow, he'd peek his head in, but today, he'll just walk the grounds, and people watch, maybe something cool would happen or he'd meet a friend.
Jerome was a lonely kid. He had no siblings and no real friends. There really weren't a lot of other kids his age traveling with the circus, and the ones that were around weren't very nice to him. The poor kid, had it pretty bad.
He lived in a tiny trailer with his mother Lila. She was a snake dancer, a drunk, and a bit of a whore. The woman had no business procreating. She was a selfish and cold woman, and unfortunately she was all Jerome had.
The ginger teen, usually tried to make himself scarce. He'd walk around the grounds, or visit local swimming holes in the summer, go to the library, and sometimes he'd venture out into whatever city they were passing through.
Today seemed like an ordinary, typical boring day. Jerome took a seat at a bench by one of the food trucks, with a book in his hand. He gave the crowd of people a once over. Looked like the usual crowd. He liked to watch the families there with their kids, and imagine what it was like to have a real family - two parents that loved you equally and took you to fun places like the circus.
He was just about to open up his book, and binge read for a few hours, when he saw her. A beautiful brunette woman with big dark eyes. She was wearing a pretty, white, spaghetti strap sundress and sandals. She had curly hair below her shoulders. Big soft curls like she did it with a curling iron, and some kind of big white flower behind her right ear.
Jerome's mouth fell open, as he watched the dark haired beauty walking through the crowd. She really stood out, but not just because she was beautiful, but because she appeared to be wandering around alone.
Now, a teen girl walking around alone wouldn't really seem strange, but this woman must have been in her late thirties - possibly even forty. Usually women that age were there with children or a husband. She also appeared to be very sad and somber like. Jerome couldn't help but wonder how such a lovely lady could be so terribly sad.
As she walked by one of the clowns, he reached out and handed the pretty lady a red balloon. He must have noticed her sadness as well. Just when the boy thought she couldn't be anymore attractive, she smiled as she grabbed it from his hand.
She had the warmest and most beautiful smile he had ever seen. She looked like she would be a lovely person - inside and out, and Jerome knew in that moment, that he had to meet her. However he had no idea how. He was shy and not very good with girls. He had absolutely no excuse to talk to her. It would be painfully obvious, he was flirting. How awkward.
He didn't have much time to think about what he was going to say, or even if he was in fact going to approach her. It was a big crowd, and if he waited much longer, she'd disappear into it. She did look very warm and approachable though - like she'd be really nice and polite, even if she wasn't interested. He knew she wouldn't look at him like he was crazy, or be dismissive.
He stood up from the bench with his book in hand and walked toward the carousel, that she was standing by. He took a deep breath as he started to approach her. She looked up and the two made eye contact. Now it was too late. He couldn't turn around now.
The boy stopped in front of the stunning older woman and opened his mouth to speak. "Hi…." He started, as he put his hand out for her to shake. "I'm Jerome."
The woman smiled nervously and, shook his hand. "Hello, Jerome. I'm Francie. It's a pleasure to meet you."
She was just as warm and friendly as she looked and she spoke with a bit of an accent. Sort of southern, maybe Midwestern. If he had to guess, he'd say she was an Okie.
"The pleasure's all mine, miss." The boy said as their hands broke apart. "You have a bit of an accent. You're not from here are you?"
"I've lived here since I was in my early twenties, but I'm originally…"
Jerome interrupted. "Wait, don't tell me…." He placed his finger to the side of his mouth like he was thinking real hard. "I'm thinking Oklahoma."
Francie's eyes grew wide with surprise and she chuckled. "Oh my gosh…" She placed her hand on her chest. "I'm from Muskogee. Good guess."
"Well, my mom's a snake dancer, so I've been traveling with the circus since I was a tot. You start to pick up on stuff like that."
"Oh, you're part of the circus? Well, that must be exciting."
Jerome rolled his eyes and shrugged. "Not really. It's actually pretty lonely." He said, as he kicked some dirt and looked down at his feet.
"I guess there's not a whole lot of people your age to hang out with, huh?"
"There's a few, but I don't really like them very much. So, what's a lovely lady like yourself, doing all alone at the circus?"
Francie smiled at the compliment and cleared her throat. It was obvious, she knew she was being flirted with, and she blushed just a bit. "Um..I was…just reminiscing." She made kind of a sad face, and seemed like she wasn't comfortable talking about it. Jerome decided not to press the matter any farther.
The lovely brunette looked down at the book in Jerome's hand and smiled. "The Outsiders. That's a great book. How far into it are you?"
"I'm on chapter five so far. I'm really enjoying it. I really like S.E. Hinton's simple writing style."
"Yeah, me too. It's easy to read, and yet it's very interesting and not boring at all. That's hard to pull off."
"I couldn't have said it better myself." Jerome smiled at the older woman, and looked down at his feet. "Um, are you hungry? I know where all the best food trucks are." He said jokingly.
"Actually, I'm gonna have to get goin soon. I've been here all day and my feet are killin me. But I work at Rizzo's Diner in the city. It's a local diner. Ya know, one of those places that the locals send the out of towners to. You can stop by if you come into the city."
"I would like that."
"I work the dayshift. We have the best pie in town. There's a lot of regulars and everybody seems to know each other. It's real homie. Reminds me, of home, anyways."
"I'll make sure to swing by soon, then."
"Well, I look forward to it. It was a pleasure to meet you, Jerome." Francie extended her hand to the younger man.
"Great to meet you too, Francie. I'll see you soon."
"Indeed. Bye bye." The pretty lady waved and walked off into the crowd.
Jerome bit his bottom lip and smiled. He was so glad he had worked up the nerve to talk to the older woman. She was just as pleasant as he had hoped she would be, and just as lovely as can be. He just might have to venture into the city after all….