We retire to a small, green town, much like the ones we used to pass touring with the circus.
The dappled light catches on Emmitt’s scaly skin as we sit on the deck, sunning ourselves. He cracks an eye open to find me watching him. “Take a picture, Percilla. Lasts longer.”
I snap a Polaroid, wait for the ghostly colors to take shape. His laughter is bright like the windchime refrain of our porch.
We take the next photo in a flower-dotted field. How good it feels, to be the ones immortalizing each other. Emmitt combs the dark fur that’s always grown all over my body. He works at the twining strands with adept fingers, braiding star-shaped flowers through my hair. A stubborn strand tangles with his wedding ring. My adoptive parents, the circus masters, didn’t approve of our union, so we eloped. It wasn’t an easy choice, but it is one I’d make all over again.
I pull him down, and the camera thuds amid the grass-blades. We know how to draw the sweetest sighs from each other’s lips. How to cradle bliss in the space between our bodies.
Which isn’t to say our early retirement goes without a hitch. At the drive-in theater, a group of college students laugh themselves silly at the sight of Emmitt and I. He has thick skin, my boy, but insults still flay him open sometimes. I used to be nice and proper when spectators visited our Freaks Tent. Now, I fling my drink at the kids’ Chevy, blueberry slushie dripping down cherry-red paint.
“That’s right, run!” I yell, making chimp sounds as their car speeds away.
Emmitt leans across the console and peppers my mouth with salted-caramel kisses.
I thought the neighborhood children would mock us, too. Instead, they gather by our picket fence, pulsating with curiosity. Are you superheros? Gods? Mutants? I swear, they get the strangest ideas. I’ve always been fond of questions, even the smallest, timidest ones. I remember my Emmitt holding my hands back at the circus, eyes pools of yearning as he asked, “What if? What if there’s something better for us out there?”
Avra Margariti is a queer Social Work undergrad from Greece. She enjoys storytelling in all its forms and writes about diverse identities and experiences. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in SmokeLong Quarterly, The Forge Literary, Baltimore Review, The Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and other venues. Avra won the 2019 Bacopa Literary Review prize for fiction. You can find her on twitter @avramargariti.