It had been so long since Carly walked down this road. She was quite surprised it was so well kept but assumed the loggers her father allowed on the property were to thank for that. Carly much preferred when the road was a little more hidden from view. The gate made everything look a little foreboding.
She was sweating now from the hike. The midday sun combined with the tiny beads of perspiration made the elephant tusks on her forearm sparkle. She was sure her father would not be pleased that she had a full sleeve of ink on her right arm, but then he had not been pleased with much of anything in her life. After all, she had run away to the circus – literally.
The sound of the four-wheeler broke her concentration. She turned to see her father as he shut off the engine. “Look what the cat drug in.” He was smiling that same crooked smile her mother always said made her weak in the knees. Steve certainly was a charmer. He wrapped his arm around her shoulder and walked her toward the four-wheeler. “Care for a ride?”
As they approached the long driveway, she could see the house in the distance. It had not changed much, but everything else had. It was bittersweet.
It was just the two of them now – at a crossroad that neither of them had ever imagined. It was the first time she had been home since her accident.
Carly seldom told the story in full detail. The fall from the trapeze was the result of a foolish mistake. An elephant literally saved her life. Her fiancé stayed until she recovered, then he did what her mother had done. He walked out. That’s when she bought the bar – Tuskers – named after the elephant that broke her fall.
“I don’t suppose you need a summer barkeep, do you?” There was that smile again. He was gentler now which made her feel more at ease. Her father walked over to the sink to stack their dinner dishes. As he rolled up his sleeves, the tattoo came into view.
“Dad?” She shrieked in disbelief. There on her father’s arm, an elephant balanced in a martini glass. She walked toward him and put her arms around this man she had forgotten how to love. She read the words permanently etched on his arm. Shaken Not Broken.
He smiled that crooked smile and she acknowledged for the first time, she had the same smile. She breathed a sign of relief. They were going to be okay.