She had stood at this exact spot and had juggled for the Busch circus since forever. Usually, she started her evening at this location outside the tent, but then moved on into the circus later. It was their way of luring in visitors. She had started as a young girl. At six she could already juggle six balls. The seventh however, proved difficult. It took her several months to gain the confidence to do it in front of an audience. By the age of seven however, she had a whole routine and had become somewhat of a highlight in the show.
There were days when she had some free time too, of course. She remembered when Max Reinhardt directed the play “King Oedipus” by Sophocles at the circus. It was a night to remember. The show was so successful that he would go on to direct “The Lost Son” and Hofmannthal’s “Jedermann” there in subsequent years. Each time she went and was swept away by the grandeur of it all.
When, in 1920, the circus was developed into a cinema it grew quiet around her. Not only had she lost her job, after the war unemployment was widespread, she had lost her calling too. Entertaining people wasn’t just a profession for her, it was part of her soul.
She knew a lot about the history of the Prater and the Venediger Au. How it had changed from a meadow, to hunting grounds, gardens, and then entertainment. A place of constant change. It had become an important place for the people of Vienna. A place to relax from the hardship of everyday life. That was nice and all, but she didn’t want to sell tickets at the cinema, even if it was the biggest in the city. It didn’t pay badly, but she wanted to perform. She needed to perform.
She stood at the street corner, looking at the cinema and picked up a pine cone that just lay there. Then another one. And another one. Soon they were swerving left and right past her ears, encircling her head like planets. So she decided to quit the job at the cinema and perform at this corner from now on.
After years of telling people about the Prater’s history and performing her juggling act on her own, she again noticed a change. After 1945 fewer and fewer people were interested in history. They all wanted to forget the inconvenient truth of their own actions. And even though she still stood at the corner, rather than entertain, she slowly faded away. Into the scenery, became part of the facade behind her. Her Grant (grumpiness) took the form of a sort of grey petrification. Turning her into stone, unable to move, unable to act.
Until, one day, she felt an inquisitive gaze upon her. A peculiar sensation of interest, that she hadn’t felt since the days she’d stood on the big stage of Circus Busch. She felt how her limbs loosened up and immediately her hands sprang into action. The familiar, almost automatic movement of ball – hand – ball came so natural, as if she’d never stopped. The balls dancing around her head made her smile, thanking the inquisitive creature, who’s gaze had awakened her from petrification.