Holding On

holding onAt fifteen years old, Barry shouldn’t have been feeling the pressure of taking on the family business. While other kids had fantasized about running away from their plumber fathers and their plumber family businesses in favor of the circus, Barry fantasized about quite the opposite. Plumbers had job security and, excepting freak accidents involving water heaters or automated plungers, bodily security all wrapped up in a unionized package.

Tightrope walkers had nothing of the sort.

“It’s time for you to put away all that school crap,” his father had told him, “and focus on what really matters.”

Barry knew better than to bring up his 19 year old brother, Hank, who had already denied the family’s legacy in favor of the enthralling world of public accounting. “We don’t talk about Hank anymore,” his father informed them one night at dinner.

The issue wasn’t Barry’s preference for Faulkner over funambulism or even his actual walking ability- he could make it across the big top in ten seconds flat on one foot, his father would be happy to tell you. The issue was the white strands that had already found their ways into Barry’s hair. Because his job was founded on his one true fear.

“You’ve just got to buck up and perform, boy! That’s what we were born to do!”

What he had found after fifteen years, however, wasn’t that he was afraid of heights. When you spend that much time in the air, you find that you’re much more afraid of the ground.


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