The Greatest Show on Earth:Part Two
Hyoo shifted in his seat, drumming his pencil absently against the wooden desk he was sitting at. The room around him looked as restless as he felt on the inside – dull grey walls, old posters on the wall in at attempt to brighten up the place, and a clock that ticked loudly to remind them how much longer they were stuck there.
He resisted the urge to sigh. He was completely bored out of his mind. It was his senior year in Neoschool. After this year, he would be going out into the real world to decide what he wanted to do with his life. He had been taught that there were plenty of options. He could pursue higher education and become something like a doctor, or a scientist, or an architect. He was also told it was ok to work with your hands, and he could do something like become a chef, or become a farmer.
But despite the numerous options he was given, nothing was sitting with Hyoo at all. He felt like he wanted something else. But what?
As he pondered this, he found he was humming. It was a tune he didn’t really recognize, and he was drumming his pencil against his desk to the beat. Where did it come from? Then, he remembered.
Along with the realization of the tune came a million more memories, flashing before his mind as a symphony of colors and sensations. Two Aisha acrobats wearing sequined outfits flinging each other across the high beams. A Xweetok tightrope walker, balancing on an impossibly thin rope, brows furrowed in concentration with each movement. A hilarious clown, dressed in a spotted jumpsuit, throwing candy to the laughing crowd. And music. Happy, gleeful, irresistible music. A crowd full of cheering patrons. Bright spotlights and strobe lights electrifying the crowd in a stunning display.
Hyoo found himself smiling like he hadn’t in ages. Then, he felt the strangest sensation. It was almost like something physically “clicked” in his head. He thought to himself, What am I doing here? I don’t belong here. At the thought of the circus, his dull, black and white world had been filled with a circus of color and life. The type of life he had been missing. The type of life he wanted.
His brain started dreaming up something crazy. What if he were to make his own circus? What if he could bring the joy to others that had been brought to him when he was a young Buzz? It would be hard, but he could do it. He could find the right Neopets. Find the right entertainers. He would work harder and longer than anybody else. Finally, he had found the answer to his problem. Finally, his life could begin.
Without excusing himself, he jumped from his desk and out of the room. His teacher called out to him, “Hyoo! Where are you going? HYOO!”
Hyoo heard, but he didn’t care. He kept running. Better things were waiting for him.
- - -
“So, let me get this straight. You’re leaving your education to pursue the circus?”
Hyoo’s owner, Anna, was watching anxiously as her Buzz animatedly packed some essentials into a battered old suitcase. She was twirling a strand of her hair with her finger repeatedly – Anna often fidgeted when she got nervous.
“Yup!” he answered cheerfully, oblivious to Anna’s discomfort at the idea.
Anna stared at him. Any onlooker could see the gears in her head visibly turning, trying to find a tactful way to say that she thought her beloved Buzz had completely lost his mind.
“Hyoo?” she asked gently. “Can you stop for a moment?”
Hyoo stopped, a pair of jeans still in his hand, inches away from being shoved into a suitcase. He put down his suitcase, and looked at his owner inquisitively. She was using a different tone of voice than usual. “What’s up?” he asked.
She sat down on Hyoo’s bed, and gestured for him to join her. He did. Comically, his feet did not reach the floor when he sat.
“Look, Hyoo,” she began delicately. “I think it’s great that you seem so enthusiastic about this. You know I want to support you in any way I can.”
“Right…” Hyoo said, feeling slightly suspicious.
“But deciding to drop out of school is a major decision,” she continued. “It’s something that will affect the rest of your life. There are certain decisions you need to make in life with a calm, clear head. Some decisions can’t be decided by emotions. This is one of them. If you drop out of school, you’ll be throwing away so much hard work, and you’ll be limiting your options for the future. I want you to have the best opportunities possible.”
Hyoo paused, considering her words. Anna was surprised he did not immediately fly off the handle; Hyoo was a very emotional Buzz. After a moment, he spoke.
“I understand, Anna,” he said. “I understand why it might look like I’m being crazy. I understand why I know it might look like I’m throwing everything away. But I don’t think I am throwing everything away. As a matter of fact, I know I am not. All my life I’ve been told there’s only a set amount of ways to be successful in this world. But how do we even determine success? A stable job, money, material things?”
“Those things are necessary, as much as we don’t like it,” Anna interrupted.
“I know,” Hyoo answered. “But what if there’s more than just the ways I have been taught? What if I can make my own opportunities, without having to do what everybody else does? Isn’t there more to life than what we deem to be ‘success?’ Let’s say I stay in school. I follow the straight and narrow path. I end up stereotypically successful, but I’m unhappy and miserable the rest of my life? Would you want that for me?”
“No,” Anna admitted. She didn’t like admitting when she was wrong.
“Nobody should. I know in my heart of hearts that the only life worth living is one you are passionate about. One you care about, and the one you want, not what society tells you that you should want. It doesn’t have to look the way everybody else’s happiness looks. That’s the beautiful thing about happiness. It can look however you want it to. And it can be yours. It can be something nobody can take away from you.”
Anna was quiet for a really long time. The air was tense. Hyoo was hoping silently that his words were making any sort of impact. Finally, she spoke.
“How would you do it?” she asked. “Being happy is hard. It takes work. You don’t get your dream life overnight just because you want it more badly than anything. You have to build it. How would you do it?”
Excitedly, Hyoo launched into explaining his idea for a circus of his own. Once he left school that day, he had scribbled several notes. His notes had ideas for what type of actors and their talents that he would want in the show, how to train them, ideas for music and other entertainment. Anna listened, taking it all in. Her Neopet had thought this through more than she thought he had.
“And that’s how I would do it,” Hyoo concluded breathlessly. “Anna, I want this. I want this more than I have wanted anything. I feel like for the last 18 years I’ve been asleep, and now I’m finally awake. I will work harder than anybody. I will make this happen. And I will not fail.”
Anna looked at her Neopet in admiration. Hyoo had always found a way to achieve anything he put his mind to. Indeed, he had never failed at anything he had tried. He had a selective but very intense work ethic. When something mattered to him, he became an expert in it.
Suddenly, Hyoo’s Pawkeet, Polly, flew into the room, landing on Hyoo’s shoulder. Hyoo petted the top of his head, and Polly made a noise of contentment, happily nestling into his owner’s shoulder.
“Remember the day I got Polly?” Hyoo asked his owner. He hadn’t thought about it in a very long time.
“I do,” Anna said, her eyes twinkling happily. “I think that was the biggest I’ve ever seen you smile,” she added.
“I was happy because I was somewhere I love, making a memory I would always remember,” he said. “I want to do more of that. And I can’t do it by sitting at a Neoschool, learning things I don’t care about and won’t use in real life. I can’t spend my life stuck at a desk, when the world is just sitting there, begging me to explore it. For me, there’s more to life.”
Anna looked at her Buzz, then at her Buzz’s Pawkeet. She smiled widely, and pushed herself off the bed.
“Let me help you pack,” she said.
To be continued…