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Rewrite the Stars

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Anne Wheeler and Phillip Carlyle: Two different worlds

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Anne and Phillip are from two different worlds.

She, a circus acrobat - scratch that- a black woman in a world that frowns on “others”. She and her brother W.D. aren’t the most normal of people. Well, they are but they’re just the wrong color so they’re not normal to most. They were shocked when they saw the advertising for the circus. Of course it hasn’t been easy being in what the folks in town called a “freak show” but it was fun because they were all outcasts. People no one would want to be near. People others were afraid of or thought of as lesser beings.

Two months earlier..

Mornings waking up in our one room flat was usually not as exciting as this morning. Today might be the day our lives would change forever. Hopefully.

We had seen the most odd of things. A crumpled up piece of colorful paper. In fact, many crumpled up pieces of the same type of paper were rolling around the ground at the town central.

“What do you think these are? They are everywhere.” I asked my brother.

“Who knows. Who cares. Probably nothing of any use or us Anne.” W.D. said holding up the newspaper.

We’ve been trying to find jobs to help support our family back home but hasn’t come across anyone willing to employ a couple of black kids. Mom and Dad has sent us in hopes that we’d become better off than they did. We had the education but no one cared about whether you were actually qualified to do the job. All they cared about was your status, color and sometimes your gender.

I kneeled down and picked up one of the rolling balls and uncrumpled it.

“Come join P.T. Barnum’s show!” Huh? Hmmm.... I thought.

“Look!” I showed my brother the flyer.

“What is it? Like a circus?”

“I don’t know. But it says they’ll pay us and that they don’t care about anything except talent. You know we can do the trapeze with no problem! We’d be perfect!” I said. I was excited for this. We may finally be able to have jobs that didn’t discriminate.

He stared at it intensely. I was hoping he’d say yes so because I thought it was a great opportunity and we’d finally be able to take care of our parents.

“I’ll go if you really want to do this. But the first sign of trouble and we leave. Okay?”

“Okay.” I said. At least he’d give it a try.

This morning was sure to be a great one. I was in one of the greatest moods I’d been in in awhile. We were going to try out for the Barnum show today!

“Anne are you ready? I’m leaving with or without you!”

Ugh “I’m coming! Calm down damn!” I hurried and put my stockings on and slipped on my shoes. Grabbing my coat I ran out the door past W.D.

Dreaming with your eyes wide open...

Chapter Text

We headed out onto the street and started on our way to the show building.

Unfortunately, in order for us to get from our flat to there we had to walk past groups of the “betters”. They sneered at us just as they did every morning. I could hear the whispers of slurs and see the anger flashing their eyes. Doing my best to ignore them, I ran to catch up to W.D

“Do you think there’ll ever be a day when everyone is accepted?”

“Stop dreaming Anne. You know that will never happen.” He said. I sighed. I knew what his answer would be before I asked. I was far more optimistic than my brotherI believed that one day everyone would finally be treated equally by their peers. I hoped I was right.

“What’s the address again?”

I showed him the flyer and we realized we had missed a turn and had to turn around.

Up ahead we saw a line of people that reached all the way around the building. It must be where the show was

“A lot of people want to be in this. I wasn’t expecting so many people to actually want to be apart of this.” W.D. said.

I nodded and stepped up behind the last person in line.

We waited for about ten minutes for our turn to sign up and once we reached the front desk we gave our names.

“W.D. and Anne Wheeler? You’re brother and sister?” The man in the hat asked.

“Yes sir. We are.” I replied smiling.

“Well, W.D., Anne. We’re excited to have you join us.”

“Thank you.” We went to join the other acts on the stage

There were so many different people who were doing so many different acts. The stage was beginning to get crowded so some of us ended up overflowing out into the where the audience would be sitting. I took a look over everyone and saw giants and bearded ladies and jugglers. Thereseemed to only be two other high flying acts besides us.

“ATTENTION EVERYONE! We’re going to audition one category at a time.” The jugglers were called first so I zoned out thinking about my parents. We hadn’t heard from them in a few weeks and that was unusual but we didn’t think anything of it. The last call from them had been about some people threatening to run them out of town and had burned the house down. Everyone was safe but they were obviously not safe from the townspeople. They needed to leave but they said they weren’t going to let them win. Maybe I’ll call them later tonight. We should’ve been more demanding when they told us about what happened.

“Anne! Earth to Anne!” I was being shook and turned to look and saw that W.D. was getting up so I got up and followed. The first of the high fliers was already getting set up and the other act was standing by.

“What were you thinking about?”

“Nothing. Just something mom and dad told us.”

“Oh.”

It was finally our turn to show what we had. We flipped and jumped and dived. Thankfully neither of us fell.

“Thought that went pretty well. You?”

“Yeah. Better than I thought it would.”

We were dismissed afterwards and told to come back tomorrow for the final results. We decided to go back home after getting food.

I wasn’t really all that hungry though because I was too excited about the auditions. I could barely sleep knowing that this might finally be the chance we were hoping for!

Next day:

When we went back the next day we were shocked to see that there weren’t as many here today. It’s not like anyone knew the results before they came here so where was everyone? I got my answer soon enough.

“I’ve sent everyone who didn’t make it back home. Those of you who are here made it. I suggest you get acquainted with each other because this will be your family of sorts for awhile.” P.T. came out the shadows and told us. “I’m sorry I can’t stay I’ve got a daughter to get from school.” He turned and left.

Everyone turned to look at their neighbors and started introducing themselves to each other.

“Hi I’m Lettie Lutz.” A woman’s voice told me. I searched for it and found a woman. With a beard. She was smiling at me and I smiled back. “I’m Anne. This is my brother W.D. We’re trapeze artists.”

“Well obviously you can tell what my act is.” She said chuckling. “Anyway, you guys did great yesterday.”

“Thanks!” I was worried about making friends but maybe we’ll make some friends after all...

“I can introduce you to some of the others if you’d like.”

“That’d be great. Thank you.” We followed her across the room where a larger crowd had gathered. I took this as an affirmation that the group had already more or less split into two.

Back home:

Everyone was nice and it seemed like we wouldn’t have any problems with anyone. They all seemed like they’d known what it wa alike to be stared at and mocked all their lives. I knew our differences would be what kept us a team. This was shaping up to be a very eventful night and it seemed it’d only get better from here. I was afraid to go to sleep fearing this was a dream and I didn’t want to go back to my previous life before all this. This was like a fantasy.
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“When the world becomes a fantasy
And you're more than you could ever be
'Cause you're dreaming with your eyes wide open
And you know you can't go back again
To the world that you were living in
'Cause you're dreaming with your eyes wide open
So, come alive!”