First, there will be wind. Quite a lot of it in fact.
You will hold onto your hat, squint against the sting of blowing sand, and wonder. Then, as the initial blast fades, you’ll hear the music — pipes and drums. Softly, but growing clearer. And you will forget the grit in your teeth. If you are wise, you will forget everything but that music. You will let it fill you up and direct your feet until, suddenly and inevitably, you see it.
The tents are beautiful, rippling in the breeze and glittering in the sun, and the wonders they contain are beyond imagination.
But first, you have to make it past the ticket-taker. He doesn’t accept cash. The other people in line hand him silver buttons, carved pumpkins, jars of grasshoppers, but those are their tickets. Not yours. Either you have it, or you don’t.
(And don’t think for a moment you can sneak inside. The children in line are already whispering about the tiger that guards the gates.)
Once you’re there, you’ll have to make some hard decisions. The circus holds enough magic for a lifetime of exploration, and you only have a few hours.
If you’re not feeling well, I recommend a stop by Rosebud’s wagon to start out. She can whip up a potion to cure almost anything that ails you. And you’ll need to be in top shape if you’re going to plow through the crowds!
Next door, right at the heart of the circus in a tent so large it’s impossible to miss, you’ll find Mr. Head’s Menagerie. Don’t expect to see any cages in this magical zoo. Take a camel ride over to meet the wallaby, and see if you can coax him into showing off his talent for burping. Ask to borrow the iguana’s magazine. Or convince the world’s most intelligent elephant, Big Jean, to help you out with your algebra. She’s a pro. Animal lovers take note — you’ll find it difficult to leave this tent behind, but if you do, you might spy one more magical creature winging her way through the night.
Chintzy the parrot often has a message in her beak, and a messenger can’t be interrupted when she’s at work, of course. But if you happen to have some crackers on hand, or some peanut butter, then she might be persuaded to break for a snack. She knows all the circus gossip, and she’s been around for long enough to point you in the direction of all the best shows. Just don’t forget to call her “ma’am.”
I doubt you’ll have trouble keeping your energy up at a place like Circus Mirandus, but just in case, be on the lookout for a woman in green overalls. You can find all kinds of magical food and drink at the circus, but the sweets are my personal favorite. And the candy lady has the kind of treats that will make you sing opera (literally).
And of course, there are the magicians themselves. They come from all over the world, and most of them are centuries old. Gather a hundred or so of your new friends, and challenge one of the Strongmen to a game of tug-of-war. Watch the shapeshifter change faces faster than blinking.
When you think you’ve seen everything, think again. Another tent is around every corner, another magical wonder is tucked in every shadow. It’s enough to dizzy you in the best of ways, and you really can’t take a wrong turn at Circus Mirandus. By the time your ticket expires, you’ll be full to bursting with amazing sights.
But you can’t leave. Not yet. Before you go, you have to see one final show.
In the quiet part of the circus, you’ll find a smaller tent, black with glimmering, golden suns. The sign by the door promises a performance by the Man Who Bends Light.
You might think the line is too long. It might seem that the golden rope across the entrance will never drop. You might wonder if this mysterious show is worth the wait.