Thanks to his strict parents, Ahio’s life had always been a structured one. Swim team by age five. Dinner every evening at six. Everything tidied and in its proper place by the time he flossed his teeth each night. When he had fallen in love with Puaura, he had made the perfect plan – a June wedding. Two years to adjust and save money. And then, if they were ready, two children; a boy followed by a girl. Of course, he knew that things did not always work out so neatly, but still he hoped.
Life with Poe was anything but structured. Unlike his old home, which was tastefully furnished and well-organized, Poe’s house was like a mini-circus, with walls splashed with vibrant colors and mismatched furniture. It was rarely quiet. Poe often rose at dawn and blasted cheerful calypso music or cumbias while practicing her dance moves or routines. Her pet bird had an annoying habit of screeching along with the music. And if that was not enough commotion, Poe’s strange carnie friends and dance clients streamed in and out of the house throughout the day, their conversations and laughter bouncing around the rooms until Ahio’s head throbbed, and he began to long for the peaceful refuge of the sea.
“So, what do you do all day, exactly?” Poe asked him one day, when the house was strangely empty of people.
Ahio looked at her, startled. He couldn’t tell her the truth. “I…I just wander around the island, I guess.”
Poe shook her head. “I mean for money. What can you do that will earn money?”
Ahio shrugged. His last job had been as a lifeguard. Before the switch, he had also begun taking online business courses, so that one day, he could take over the management of his father’s furniture store. But that life was behind him now. “I can play the drums a little,” he said, his face flushing red. Not exactly a big money-making skill.
“It’s a start,” said Poe. And a week later, she had booked him a gig at a local bar, playing drums for a small band. She also had a few of her carnie friends offer him lessons in the magic arts, and after a slow start, he was soon performing simple tricks at children’s birthday parties.
A few years ago, the old Ahio would never have dared to imagine himself living a life like this – a life full of the unknown, of chaos and color and music. He would not have guessed that he would become good friends with a charismatic acrobat like Poe, or sleeping in her bed, curled together like cats, exhausted after a long day of entertaining the masses. He wondered what the old him would think. He wondered if Puaura would still love him if she knew what he had become.