"Mommy, mommy," Andriy blathered. "I want to see the circus."
Olek hated the way his brother, Andriy, used mommy. Especially when Mommy had that faraway look she got when the whiskey bottle sloshed, her eyes rolling all googly as she watched daddies wading across Gidropark's beaches. She raised the bottle for another gulp.
Olek punched Andriy. "Shush," Olek whispered. "You'll make it worse when she's like this."
Andriy kicked sand, the grains blown over his mother, calling attention to the two of them. "I'll be good at the circus. Mommy can stay. I'll watch Olek."
She teetered, unable to get the money into Andriy's hands, the bills blowing into the wind. Andriy chased the cash. Mommy had barely looked at them.
Olek followed his brother through a depression in the park, large cement slabs lining the edge of the hill like an overrun outdoor amphitheater, tufts of weeds poking through the edges of the cement. Tires were half-buried around a stump.
Andriy pushed Olek and he fell into the grass. "Stay here."
"You promised mommy."
"You didn't want to disturb her."
"No buts. "
"But you've got money for both of us."
"Money for me and cotton candy."
"I'll tell mommy."
"Like she'll care."
Andriy was right, if he told mommy, she wouldn't do anything. She'd barely be able to take her eyes off the waves, off the daddies, off the fact that she'd been abandoned. Unfair. Olek watched the clouds pass. Fluffy wolfs, bears, and guns chased across the sky.
Olek poked at the stump, covered with a layer of leather protecting the rings from the sky. It looked like a tiny stage and Olek crawled onto it.
The world became black. "Hey!" Olek yelled. The color came back, but the grass looked more vibrant, like the day after rain. A figure moved towards him, but he couldn't focus the images into a single man. The man was upside down. Olek stood on his hands.
A faery floated through the air, glowing balls in his hands, juggling them, his hands moving so fast they became a blur. Another lady did the splits, one hand in the grass, her legs splayed across the sky, her wings spread wide. After she finished stretching, she moved through the air in smooth arcs. The first faery floated to join her and they moved like a rope-less trapeze.
Someone pushed Olek from behind and he fell off the stump.
"Whatcha doing?" Andriy asked.
"I thought you were going to see the circus."
Olek climbed back onto the stump, he wanted to see the faeries who moved through the air. It was better than the circus would've been. Andriy grabbed Olek's wrist and pulled his brother back to the beach, where mommy sat slumped on her towel.
"Circus was fun," Andriy said. "Wasn't it Olek."
Olek hated his brother. "Yeah, especially the trapeze."
"The trapeze?" Andriy asked.
Inspired by Yelena Yemchuk's photographs of Gidropark.