Getting out of the train station, I grasped my bags in my hand and looked down at the steep stairs before me.
–Don’t fall. My friend warned me.
–I’ve never fallen over.
–What do you mean you’ve never fallen over? How does that make sense? He asked.
–I don’t know. I explained. –I just never have.
–What about when you need to jump off something, like on a diving board, or getting out of a car that’s too high?
–Well that’s on purpose, I suppose. My body knows what’s going on, it follows my brain after all.
–What about when you were a kid? Have your parents ever mentioned it? Like when you were a baby? You must have fallen over when you were trying to learn how to walk. He looked over at me.
–I’ll have to ask them.
I said my goodbyes before splitting ways with him and heading home. Eventually arriving at my home, I found my parents at their favorite place; in front of the television watching wheel of fortune.
–Mom, Dad, I have a question about when I was a baby, do you have a minute? I calmly explained.
My dad, halfway through a drink of his coffee began to choke and almost spit out the mouthful. Swallowing hard, he turned to me with a tilted glance.
–Uhm, about what exactly? He asked hesitantly.
–You know, like when I was learning to walk. How… uh, was I? I asked, trying to make it seem like I wasn’t losing my mind.
I saw my dad’s eyes drift over to my mom, who gave an awkward sideways glance at him, as if she meant to agree with him. Carefully, my dad sat up from his deep cushioned chair and fumbled with the remote control, flicking it off.
–Stewart, I think it’s time we told you.
–You’re adopted. My mom blurted out.
While I tried to process the words that seemed to echo in the room, my mom went over to the old china cabinet and pulled out an old looking photo album. Inside was stuck some sort of form, creased and worn out.
–We adopted you from a couple of… folks. My mom explained.
–What type of folks? I dug deeper, taking a place on the ottoman by the TV.
–They were circus folk, you know. Being on the road all the time and everything, they couldn’t deal with having a baby with them. They had to give you up for adoption. My mom continued, trying her best to sound comforting.
–Yeah, a couple of carnies or something. Can you just imagine two clowns fucking? Getting real into it, smearing makeup, squeaking each others noses, tying themselves up like balloon animals? My dad feigned various suggestive acts.
–Stop it. My mom interrupted. –They were tightrope walkers. We went to see the show one night when they were in town. We had nothing better to do after all, being a young couple with no kids running around the house. We heard a baby crying inside of a tent; thinking it was a lost kid. That’s when we ran into your real parents. We talked with them for a while, one thing lead to another, and we ended up adopting your before they headed out for the next show.
–It’s good because her parents kept hounding us for grand kids. My dad added in.
Dumbfounded, I sat on the ottoman, mouth agape.
–So is that why I can’t fall over, trip, or otherwise loose my footing? It’s genetic or something? Because I’m the son of tightrope walkers?
The room went silent for a moment. I saw my parents exchange glances, if they weren’t sure what to say. I followed their eyes, but saw a sudden change in their faces.
–Haw Haw! My dad cackled. –Of course not. You just have low earwax production and it keeps your inner ear regulated; the doctors compliment it every time we go in for a checkup. You’re not adopted. You also fell plenty of times when you were learning how to walk.
–Damn it you two! As I stood up and stomped out of the room, I heard my parents laughing.
–Do you think we should keep the pictures of our Big Top act to show him when he’s older?