The trapeze artist hid her hands under an elephant’s hind hooves. “What’s wrong with the trapeze artist?” the ringmaster asked the elephant keeper. “She has decided against suffering,” the elephant keeper said. The elephant shifted its weight and cracked the trapeze artist’s knuckles as one cracks peanuts. “Suffering isn’t failure,”” the ringmaster declared as she glued her fake mustache to her lip. That night, the trapeze artist watched her replacement cling to the bar, swing and flip, grip another bar. She rested her crushed hands on her thighs, thought of them as purple clouds swelling against a frail sky. She asked the woman next to her for a sip of soda. The woman, noticing the hands, held her straw to the trapeze artist’’s lips. “Does it hurt?” the woman asked. The trapeze artist said, “I can do nothing for myself.” “Do you have children?” the woman asked. “Yes,” said the trapeze artist. “Don’t you long to hold them?” the woman asked. ““My husband will hold them to my breast,” the trapeze artist replied. “Don’t you want to write letters to your parents?” the woman asked as she fed the trapeze artist a pickle. “I will dictate them,” the trapeze artist said. The ringmaster forced lions to copulate in the ring. “Isn’t he great!” the woman with the soda and pickle shouted. “I bet he’s a great lover himself,”” she said in a lower tone. The trapeze artist requested that the woman applaud on her behalf.