They arrive at the circus on a cold October day.
At fourteen Annalise no longer finds joy in watching animals and clowns parade around acting the fool. The cold air pierces her threadbare jacket and she keeps a tight grip on Lily’s hand. The two-year-old’s large, innocent eyes dart this way and that, taking in the colors and sounds excitedly.
She wishes they would look back. Maybe they would turn around and say “keep up, Annalise,” or “here, let me take the baby.” But they are, as usual, too wrapped up in their own world. Her father, walking ahead with his broad chest puffed out, hardly aware of his family’s existence. Her mother, frail and simpering, clinging to him with almost pathetic adoration, whispering sweet words and throwing flirtatious glances though he barely gives her a second look. They won’t turn around, and that’s the norm.