Dreams tug, tease, and sometimes retreat into a subtle promise of a different tomorrow. A tomorrow Elio Delacruz never expected. Not after a lifetime of chasing a single goal.
Alongside his closest friends, Elio lives and loves his passion—his art. His existence depends on the whimsical, on the intangible, on the constant motion of a traveling busker.
When a tumultuous shadow from his past forces him to return to the suffocating island of Key West, his every instinct tells him to run. To flee from the scars of his youth.
And then he meets Vianella Manco. She’s only supposed to be a temporary distraction until he can break free of the island. His heart is never supposed to beat for her. And she’s never supposed to wish for anything beyond the easy moments they steal from one another.
But, sometimes, purposes change and the truths you believed turn out to be nothing more than pretty lies.
The sun begins to set, doing its best to outperform us. More tourists gather around me, their awestruck enthusiasm pushing me forward. As usual, I give them my best, everything I have to offer them, before the sinking sun devours it.
With my knives in hand, I start to juggle. Their applause and shouts draw in more people.
“Oh, shit!” I call out, widening my eyes. “I haven’t learned how to stop yet.”
My crowd grows, but with Devin standing in the front, next to Owen and Vianella, he’s easy to spot. After I put my knives away, I gesture for Devin to help me with my show. Together, we go through easy balancing tricks and, when Devin follows my cartwheel with an effortless handstand, Owen’s mouth curves into a cocky smirk. He claps louder than anyone else and gives his son a thumbs-up when Devin turns to him.
“Show-off,” I sign, narrowing my eyes to make Devin giggle. “Go get your own show.” With thunderous applause from my audience, I usher him away.
In my shows, I create a journey, consisting of a beginning, a middle, and an end. The persistent end that steals the mystical bewilderment.
Inscrutable, glamorous, and maybe imaginary.
But I feel as if it’s there. In my juggling. While I ride the unicycle. As I connect with strangers. There’s satisfaction and appreciation. Letting me know I matter, that I’m not invisible.
Dusk kisses the horizon, setting the bay behind me ablaze.
And there she is. The bewitching girl with the violet eyes. She stands out, like a bolt of fiery lightning. The shooting star that swims across the night sky.
She’s there. Watching me. Enchanting me.
Her laughter echoes in my ears, the feverish ringlets curling into my gut. The dazzling display of her delight sets Mallory on fire. Striking and luminous, I escape into the living moment of her bliss. And I leave behind the tremulous shadows of my father and what his return means to my life.