“There’s blood in my mouth,” she realized suddenly. Her eyes shot open, the vibrant stripes of the big tent overhead sparkling with the bright lights of her concussion. The trapeze swung without her like an empty taunt, hypnotizing the audience as they held their breath, craning their necks to see if her limp body might move.
She pressed her palms into the ground. She shifted the weight of her hips. She tried to sit up. Nothing. A shadow crossed her face, blocking out all of the commotion of the circus.
A horrified face appeared above her. “Help!” it screeched, with all the wet pain of a man in love, a man grieving.
“I’m okay,” she reassured Nicholas, stroking his face as she had many times in the more intimate moments they’d shared. “I’m fine,” she cooed, as another shadow appeared over his shoulder.
As she looked into its face, somewhere in the distance behind her she heard Nicholas cry, “Oh my god! Oh, my god! Oh, my god! She’s dead!”