He worked in the circus when he was younger – he was on all the posters, but they never named him. He told stories about the cheers and the restless shifting of the elephants (he could see the circus ring even then, when he needed glasses to see past his nose), and the exotic places that they travelled to. But eventually he settled down, of course, and was made a widower, and used to sit up all night listening to the gentle tinniness of the music box as the ballerina twirled, staring at the ship in the bottle that was all he had left of his father the Naval officer. Finally he was an old man, with memories of his wife and the purple scarf that she used to wear when she performed bareback on white horses in the ring. Stumbled with his walking stick to the post office every day to get the pension from the job he never enjoyed (took it up to support the kids, who gave him a jack in the box for his eightieth birthday because it looked like the clown on one of the posters). He used to double as the magician once the ring act was over, flying parakeets from his sleeves and pulling rabbits out of the ringmaster’s hat and pretending it was all magic, like the card tricks no one ever understood.
Of course, we couldn’t clear it all out when he died. So many memories, piled up against that wall.
TEXT by Miranda Latham-Jackson + IMAGES by Trine Mangeres