Sunshine was deeply absorbed in her stitching, not realizing that she was slowly evolving from an eight year girl to a nine year old. The changes were subtle, that she did not really feel a change, no on seemed to notice not even mother and father, but Madame noticed.
“You’ve grown an inch,” Madame Lavender said to Sunshine.
“I have?” Sunshine wondered.
“Yes, that means you are one year older,” Madame said. “When is your birthday?”
“October,” Sunshine said.
“Did you get cake?” Madame asked.
“No,” Sunshine replied, “I never get cake, we don’t celebrate birthdays.”
“No, cake,” Madame was surprised, “everybody has cake on birthday. I make cake for you. What cake do you like, vanilla, strawberry, chocolate?”
“I don’t know,” Sunshine thought. “We never have cake.”
“What! No cake ever?” Madame had heard enough. “I make cake. I make strawberry, it’s my favorite.”
Sunshine could not say no. Mother never celebrated birthdays, because it required too much work. The circus was enough work. There was always something to do at the circus. Father was too busy and had no time for family matters, as a matter of fact, when Sunshine thought about it she doesn’t recall father being home much and when he was, his upside down smile was etched deeper, and longer than mothers.
Madame Lavender invited Sunshine to celebrate her birthday one night while the circus was active with its performers, that way mother and father did not notice Sunshine was not home as she was supposed to be home before it got dark. Madame had the lights turned off as she brought in the cake, lit with candles. Sunshine was marveled at the whole scen, her eyes grew wide and her mouth opened in delight. It was the most beautiful cake. Madame made the celebration pleasant and they sang songs and ate cake. Sunshine hadn’t even notice that two hours had gone by.
“I have to go home,” Sunshine said, “or mother will be displeased.”
“Very well,” Madame said. “I see you tomorrow, we must continue to work on stitching.”
Sunshine agreed and walked home in the dark, avoiding the post lights in case father was out and saw she was not home. She easily saw through the darkness and turned and steered away from things she could bump in to. That was easily said than done when she collided with a leg. She couldn’t quite see, but she was certain she bumped into a man’s leg, because whoever she bumped in to had looked down and with a not so pleasant voice raised it loud and hard, wanting to know who had bumped into him.
“Watch it!” said the man. “Get out of here! Scram, before I put my hands on you!”
Sunshine froze in her place when she recognized the voice, but he didn’t seem to recognize her as he kept telling her to go away. Before Sunshine could leave she saw another pair of legs, not that of the man’s, but a women’s.
“Brute, let me go,” said the women. “Let me go, I don’t want to.”
“You will leave when I am done with you,” the man said. “Stop moving around, I might enjoy it more.”
“Brute, it doesn’t feel right,” the women said.
The man quickly forget about the child that stood nearby and focused on the women he held tightly in the darkness. Sunshine made her leave, quietly and quickly. She got home, her mother standing near the tent entrance looking out for her husband to return home. Mother did not notice Sunshine coming in. Sunshine snuck in her room with a heavy heart. The only man whose first name was Brute was her father.