Juggler by Michelle Elvy

I used to be a juggler. Got pretty good, too. Started out small, used three beanies my flatmate Stefan gave me. Stefan was a lively juggler, could use anything at hand. I once watched him take a salt shaker, a wine glass, and a roll of toilet paper and toss them in the air. I held my breath, expected them to come crashing down on the floor, but he kept them suspended for five minutes. All while belting out Nina Hagen.

So I started juggling with Stefan every Sunday in the Stadtpark. I was terrible at first. Man, you gotta breathe, he’d laugh. Sure enough, breathing helped. I could even ride a unicycle. We started busking and we breathed and balanced our way all over Germany. Made some money, got another partner in our act. Beate was gorgeous and could swallow swords. But she left us eventually for a poet named Peter in Paris, and after that the chemistry was gone. Stefan went back to Hamburg, I flew home to Pennsylvania. Found myself in a cubicle wearing polyester shirts and simultaneously drinking whisky from a flask I kept hidden in my bottom drawer while suffocating.

Now I’m back in Hamburg, wondering what happened to Stefan after all this time. I go to the Stadtpark on Sundays and juggle. I’m not so good any more but there’s a girl with red shoes who keeps her distance but always watches. I’m going to talk to her one of these days.

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10 Comments

Filed under Michelle Elvy

10 responses to “Juggler by Michelle Elvy

  1. Very cool story! Love the characters, juggling, the total energy of the piece!

  2. I just love the quickness of this, the characters flying in and out like the objects they juggle, and then, after time spent in a normal world, to return and spot the red shoes. Well done, Michelle.

  3. len kuntz

    this was really evocative and lively. felt real. loved how you ended it, michelle. terrific.

  4. John Riley

    I love how this sweeps along while the precise details holds it together, and that at the end we’re wondering if he’ll ever have a relationship this intimate again. That a sword swallower broke them up is wonderful. Terrific ending. Great story.

  5. beautiful. left me breathless, longing for more. you are an excellent juggler of words.

  6. Ah, the Stadtpark – never went there when I lived in Hamburg but oddly, I can see this happening …

  7. Lou

    Strange timing: Just saw two men in business suits juggling in a park in NYC a few days ago. This is awesome, Michelle. Love the polyester and the cubicle and the whiskey, and the what was.

  8. Michelle

    Thanks, everyone, for reading all year at 52|250. What a joy knowing you all….

  9. Pingback: Week #52 – Threesome | 52|250 A Year of Flash

  10. …and the cycle repeats! My man can juggle. I’ve tried but as anticipated, my hacky sacs hit various parts of the lounge. Not the best place to try…I lost a vase that day. Jx

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