Are you a creative writer? Then send me your contortion story. It could be:
- Made up
- Real experiences
- Unreal or abnormal
IMPORTANT! The story must have a flexibility and contortion theme. Your story can be written in German, English or French. It should contain more than 1000 words. Each new story will be rewarded with a free (month’s) membership to Zlata.de
Your story will be entered into this year's story competition.
The prize will be: annual membership to Zlata.de and the new Zlata calendar.
Human puzzle and Bubble-gum; Clare’s inspiration
It was a hot August Saturday afternoon; in a rear garden, 11 year old Clare was happily playing with her new rubber ball. In a field beyond the garden wall, she could see the bright colours of a big top, crowned with a Russian flag which was gently blowing in the summer breeze. The small travelling circus had pitched up the weekend before, and from the prime location of her bedroom window, she had watched the tent being efficiently erected by a group of circus hands. All week, the circus had been on Clare’s mind; her parents had purchased tickets for tomorrow’s final show, and she could not wait! Clare bounced her red ball high into the clear blue sky, squinting under the sun’s glare as it fell back into her grasping hands. She usually caught the ball, or at least, after the second bounce, but this time the ball hit the corner of a step, which sent it flying over the wall and into the field. Clare looked back at her house, she knew she wasn’t allowed to leave the garden but she would only be a few minutes after all. As she slipped through the gate, she scanned the field for her ball; it was nowhere to be seen. She slowly ventured out towards the big top and then she spotted it; it had rolled underneath the wire perimeter fence which encircled the big top. The gap under the fence was too small for her to fit through and the ball was just out of her reach; she would have to ask the circus people to get it for her. As she walked around the fence, she saw the entrance to the circus. A weather beaten sandwich board displaying show times stood next to a small open wooden box, half full of carefully stacked circus posters; but she couldn’t see anyone around. Clare decided to enter the tent, calling out as she did; “Hello!” no answer. As she reached the centre of the tent, a strange shaped box near the outside of the circus ring caught her eye. The box seemed to be painted with hundreds of black and white stripes which curved in every direction. It was sitting on small rectangular trolley which was not much wider than the box it supported. As she approached the box, she discovered that it wasn’t painted at all, it was actually made of clear Perspex and the black and white stripes belonged to something which was packed tightly inside. A black and white sign was hanging from the edge of the trolley, some letters were upside down, and some reversed, others were both upside down and reversed. After carefully rearranging the letters in her mind, Clare eventually worked out that the sign read “The Human Puzzle”; Clare was now more curious than ever. “The Human Puzzle” she repeated as she slowly walked around it, tilting her head sideways as if it would help her decipher what she was looking at. The stripes were un-organized, some thicker than others, they crossed each other and changed direction, and if she stared at the object for more than a few seconds she felt a bit dizzy. Suddenly, right in front of her eyes, she thought she saw something move. She closed her eyes for a brief moment then opened them again, concentrating all her focus on the area where she had seen movement; “A hand! She exclaimed, in a screeching voice. Clare excitedly circled the trolley, now everything started to appear in front of her eyes. She could make out two arms which were wrapped around two knees; she walked around to the rear and noticed two feet and then full circle back to the front, where she had first noticed the wiggling fingers. Behind the fingers, and squeezed tightly between two thighs she completed her inspection by identifying what could only be, a head; “The Human Puzzle” she repeated to herself, with a new found sense of triumph. The fingers were still wiggling; Clare crouched down and took a good look at the twisted mass which was now clearly very much alive. A muffled voice uttered words which she did not understand, maybe Russian, she thought. Clare pressed her ear against the Perspex. This time, she could make out the words “promogite!” and “out”. Clare stepped away; what does it mean “promogite” “out” maybe she was not welcome she thought. As she backed away, she noticed two small locked silver bolts on top of the lid. She pointed at a bolt, “open?” she asked, not sure if her actions could be seen or heard through the black and white striped mask. “Da, open”, “please open” answered the muffled voice from inside. The bolts were just beyond her reach so she looked around for something to stand on; there was nothing, then she had an idea. Clare released the trolley’s wheel brake and pushed the trolley closer to the small wall which surrounded the circus ring; once there, she reapplied the wheel brake and climbed on to the wall. Although the two bolts were now within her reach, no matter how hard she tried, the bolts would not move. She removed her shoe and began to tap them with the heel; they seemed to be stuck solid; the lid was under too much pressure from the tightly packed body pressing against it from inside. Whoever closed the bolts must have really squashed it in
there. Clare carefully climbed up onto the narrow edge of the trolley and sat on the transparent lid; a striped stomach pressed hard against the inside of the lid as it gently swelled and contracted with each breath. Again she felt slightly dizzy if she stared for too long. She tapped at the first bolt with her shoe, it moved, but only slightly, she began to bounce on the lid as she tapped, one bolt snapped open with a satisfying click. She repeated her technique until finally the other bolt released and the lid popped up slightly. She was surprised how thick and heavy the Perspex was, with some effort she managed to lift it up and lower it on its hinges to the side. She climbed down quickly, half expecting a “Jack in the box” to spring out. Standing only a few meters away Clare watched in awe as the striped creature slowly began to unfold itself out of the box until it was standing upright and reaching for the zipper behind its neck. As the mask flopped down in front, Clare was relieved to see it was just a young boy, and one with a nice smile. “Spasibo!” “Thank you! My name is Viktor I am contortionist in show” he said as he gracefully climbed down to greet Clare. Viktor looked a few years older than her, she guessed his age to be around 14, his face was still quite red and his short blonde hair was sticking up in parts due to the mask. Viktor continued, “My family deliver posters but I stay to practice triplefold; my brother play funny joke, he lock bolts, maybe he forget… We have Human Puzzle for interval break; it is big fun for children but not so big fun for me”. Clare laughed, slightly unsure if she should. Viktor turned his back to Clare but only long enough for him to bend forward and face her again, this time upside down and through his legs. Viktor slowly pulled his shoulders through one at time; he wrapped one arm around his leg and outstretched the other towards her, “nice to meet you!” “I’m Clare”, she replied as she hastily leaned forward and shook his gloved hand. I was trying to get my ball, it rolled under your fence near the back of your tent”. Clare suddenly realized that she had been gone for almost 20 minutes; “Sorry, I must go, I live in the house at the edge of the field. I will come to your show tomorrow with my parents, my ball is behind this tent, it’s red, please keep it for me” she explained to Viktor who was pulling himself into an even tighter front-bend. She wasn’t sure if he understood. As she was running towards the exit, Viktor shouted, “I keep ball for you; thank you Clare”. She stopped briefly to give him a friendly wave and then continued running home.
Clare did not tell her parents about her experience in the Big Top. All night Clare thought about Viktor and the circus. She wondered what might have happened if she did not help him out, “how long could he stay in there? How long had he already been in there?” Recalling the image of the curious striped object on the table, she remembered how difficult it was to figure out what was inside, and then, how excited she was as she identified his body parts, checking them off like an inventory as she solved the puzzle. With tired eyes, Clare looked over at the Big Top through her bedroom window one last time before drifting off into a deep sleep.
Sunday: As the circus music echoed around the tent, Clare took her seat in-between her parents in the front row. Her dad was thumbing through a program. He passed it to Clare when he saw that she was straining her neck trying to see it. It was a family run circus, most of the performers shared Viktor’s surname “Pushkin”. At first, Clare had overlooked Viktor’s photo; she was searching for the “Human Puzzle” which was nowhere to be found. It was only when she looked through the pages again she realized that she had missed a page. The contortionist in the photo was wearing a shiny pink bodysuit, which had an open faced hood. A pink circle on each cheek along with glittery pink lips and equally glittery pink eye make-up gave the contortionist’s face a doll-like appearance, “is this Viktor?” she wondered, with a confused look on her face. She studied the photo again more closely, the contortionist was assuming a tight chest-stand pose; she could see two feet visible underneath the folded arms which were wrapped around the two ankles, the pink costume was a striking contrast to the bright yellow round table which supported, Viktor; “it is him!”, she said aloud as she read the description underneath. “Circus Pushkin proudly presents “Bubble-gum”, a visually stunning and completely original contortion act featuring our very own contortionist Viktor Pushkin. “He looks beautiful!” Clare thought to herself until her imagination was quickly distracted back to the present by the bellowing voice of a cheery ringmaster who had just emerged from the performer’s tunnel. The show had begun!
Clare was having the time of her life. So far she had seen a troupe of acrobats, who dazzled the audience with synchronized backflips and somersaults; they had everyone clapping along as they ended their act with an energetic Cossack dance. There was a wonderful tightrope act featuring Viktor’s sister Nadia who was dressed as a ballerina, she was so graceful and captivated the crowd by her incredible balance. The last act before the interval was a foot-juggling act performed by two of Viktor’s brothers, Alexander and Ivan. They juggled everything from large hollow pipes to chairs; as a finale, Ivan juggled Alexander like a doll, spinning him with his feet, faster and faster. Each act was followed by a brief appearance of 2 clowns, Coco and Bongo; they were extremely popular and had all the children, and most adults, laughing out loud at their crazy antics. The jolly ringmaster brought the first half of the show to a close and informed the audience of the refreshments which were available close to the edge of the ring. He also invited children to enter the circus ring and have fun learning to Juggle or walk a tightrope, (which was placed firmly on the floor). As Clare’s parents queued up for popcorn and soft drinks, she was allowed to join the other kids in the ring. Children of all ages were walking the grounded tightrope, juggling balls, and having their faces painted. After 10 minutes or so, she saw a familiar sight; the trolley supporting “The Human Puzzle” was being wheeled into the centre of the ring by Ivan. Almost all of the children, who were playing, stopped what they were doing and crowded around the curious object. Clare weaved her way to the front of the crowd; some of the children already had their faces pressed up to the glass, cupping their hands on either side of their eyes. Ivan asked the children to step back as he wiped off hundreds of tiny fingerprints from the Perspex. The children were still straining their eyes on the mysterious stripy object as Ivan slowly began to rotate the trolley in full circles. Ivan quizzed them, “Can anyone tell me what a contortionist is?” A few older children answered, “A bendy person!”, “Someone who can do funny things with their body!”, “Yes, correct, well done!” Ivan continued, still rotating Viktor like he was a microwave dinner which made it even more difficult for their wide eyes to work out what was inside. Viktor began to wiggle his fingers; with eyes full of wonder, a small boy shouted out “A hand!” Good, replied Ivan, can we see any feet? With nervous hesitation, small girl pointed correctly identifying his feet. Very Good! Now “Who can tell me where the head is?” It was now obvious, like Clare, they had worked out the contorted posture of the person inside, and, even if they found it hard to believe, they accepted their findings with satisfied smiles. Most of the parents were standing behind the small wall at the edge of the circus ring, equally amazed at the spectacle. The ringmaster emerged from the performer’s tunnel and requested that all adults should collect their children as the second part of the show will commence in 5 minutes time. Clare mischievously approached Viktor and gently tapped on the Perspex near his face, she gave him a small wave before running back to her waiting parents.
Second part of the show: The fourth act to emerge through the tunnel was a hula hoop act featuring Viktor’s other sister, Alina. Different parts of her body gyrated independently with effortless grace. Alina, who was already spinning a hoop around her neck and one on each of her outstretched arms, stepped into hoops around the floor and flicked them up with her toes, adding more and more as she walked around the ring. The crowd roared with applause as she finished her act by successfully spinning 20 hula hoops at once. The next act to appear was a hand to hand act, again performed by Alexander and Ivan. Their strength and control was incredible. In one part of their act, Ivan, being the more powerful of the two brothers, slowly lifted Alexander high above his head whilst Alexander held a perfect handstand. Alexander gently lowered himself until his head was resting on top of Ivan’s; he slowly released one hand, then other until the only contact between them was the tops of their heads. All the movements they did were slow and fluid, as if they were performing in a world devoid of gravity.
Slapstick music filled the Big Top as Coco and Bobo walked out into the centre of the ring carrying a bright yellow table. A large curtain unfolded in front of the tunnel to reveal a gigantic painted Bubble gum machine. A short yellow slide was lowered through the gum dispense flap until it came to rest on the floor in front. To the side of the flap, there was a rectangular block with the words “twist to dispense” and a large narrow slot with the words “Insert coin” above it. The two clowns quickly ran towards the Bubble gum machine and acted confused as they attempted to figure out how
to get some gum. They kicked it, they tried to shake it but it was no use. As they scratched their heads and shrugged their shoulders a large silver coin was lowered from the centre of the ring, coming to rest on top of the table. They rushed towards it pushing each other as they ran, each wanting to be the first to get hold of it. Eventually, they agreed to both hold the coin as they retuned back to the bubble gum machine. They inserted the large silver coin, which landed with the sound of a metal clang. Still working together, they twisted the rectangular knob clockwise and waited for the gum to drop. Nothing came out. In Frustration, Bobo kicked the machine hurting his foot; children laughed as he hopped around on one leg. Coco, equally frustrated, began to vigorously shake the machine but still nothing was dispensed. With sad faces, they slowly started to walk away, looking to the crowd for sympathy. Suddenly there was a rumbling sound coming from the dispense flap. Coco and Bobo both stopped and turned to look at the machine. At that moment, a “beach ball” sized Perspex ball appeared through the dispense flap and began to roll down the slide. The two clowns raced towards it from different directions, crashing into each other as they arrived. They could see the pink ball of gum inside. Working together again, they picked up the ball and carried it onto the table. As Bobo hugged the bottom half, Coco began to unscrew the top half until finally the clear shell was broken in two to reveal the bubble gum they had worked so hard to get at. Bobo tipped over the bottom half, something pink unfolded onto the yellow table. “Viktor” Clare whispered to herself, with her eyes fixated on his limp body. The two clowns began to fight over the pink bubble gum which was lying in front of them; before finally coming to an agreement that they should share half each. They each grabbed an arm and a leg and tried to pull it apart. Viktor’s stunning over-splits and almost dislocated arms were pulled and shaken vigorously but his limber body held up to the strain. They tried a different approach, Coco grasped hold of Victor’s hands and Bobo took his ankles. They pulled him across the table, stretching him as if he was on a torture rack, but he did not break. Still holding on, they slid him off and began to swing him like a skipping rope, up and down, each time his back bend was more extreme until finally, when Viktor was high up in a back bend, they stopped and moved towards each other, folding him tightly in half so that the back of his head was resting just behind his knees. With Viktor still folded double, they placed him on the table and took a few steps back to think of another way they could break the gum in half. Just then, Bobo removed his hat to reveal a flashing light bulb which indicated he had a plan. The children laughed. Bobo whispered something in Coco’s ear and they both returned to seemingly unbreakable piece of pink gum that was before them. They picked Viktor back up and gently unfolded him before resting him on his back on the table with his arms resting on his stomach. Coco moved around to Viktor’s head Whilst Bobo stood by his feet. Bobo rubbed his hands together and did a few star jumps in preparation for his master plan, then he quickly grabbed Viktor’s right leg and ran to the side until he was standing next to Coco; Coco took the leg as if it was a relay baton whilst Bobo ran back and repeated the action with the other leg. Coco was now holding tightly onto Viktor’s legs, pressing them down into the table besides his face. Bobo lunged forward and yanked both of Viktor’s arms, pulling them through his legs so hard that Viktor’s body lifted off the table. As Coco pressed with all his might onto both of Viktor’s legs Bobo continued to pull on the arms, until Viktor was in an extreme front-bend. The two clowns pulled funny faces as they strained with the gum which stretched but did not break. Coco unwilling to give up; folded both of Viktor’s legs behind his head and proceeded to push them down until they reached the centre of his back, before finally admitting defeat and leaving him in an impossibly tight knot as they both walked a away feeling tired and beaten. At this point, the lights in the big top dimmed to a near pitch black before suddenly I spotlight was focussed on the yellow table in the centre of the ring. Viktor was sitting upright with his head pressed against his knees and his arms wrapped around his legs. The sound of a beautiful classical music enveloped the tent. Viktor moved with such grace, the audience was mesmerised into silence as he assumed countless eye-watering postures, each movement melted into the next with effortless fluidity. For a moment, Clare had almost forgotten it was Viktor, she imagined a strange creature made entirely out of bubble-gum. As the pink creature, stood in a tight backbend with arms wrapped around the front of its legs, the yellow table began to slowly rotate. A yellow rod with a padded attachment emerged from the centre, rising up behind the creature’s knees. Clare strained her eyes to see, the yellow rod was obstructed by two
pink legs but on the next rotation the amazing pink bubble-gum creature had shifted its balance and the yellow attachment had disappeared into its mouth. By the next rotation, the contortionist had lost all contact with the table and was perfectly poised in a “Marinelli bend”. Like a figurine on an exquisite clockwork music box, the contortionist revolved, round and around; the audience applauded wildly until the music faded and lights dimmed back into darkness. A few seconds later, the circus lights came back on to reveal the two clowns standing near the yellow table, each holding one half of the plastic ball case which they had unscrewed earlier. Their bubble gum creature was just how they had left it, laying in the centre of the table with both legs tightly folded behind its back. The clowns scooped up the twisted pink mass and placed it into one half of the plastic sphere before carefully squeezing the other half over him and screwing it back in place. As they carried it around the edge of the ring they blew enormous pink bubbles at the audience which made the children laugh and cheer excitedly, including Clare who was already on her feet. As the clowns disappeared back behind the curtain, the ringmaster made his final entrance to announce the end of the show. One by one, all the acts of the show appeared from behind the tunnel, the acrobats, Nadia, Alexander, Ivan, Alina, Bobo and Coco and finally Viktor who was holding a small red ball. As the performers circled the ring the crowd roared with applause. Clare ran to the edge waiting for Viktor to pass. When he reached her, he stopped and handed her the red ball, much to the surprise of her parents. “Your ball” he said with the same warm smile Clare had seen when she first met him. Clare had tears of joy in her eyes as she gave Viktor a hug; “I’m so happy we met”, she whispered, “I happy you rescue me” replied Viktor which made Clare laugh. She wasn’t sure why she felt the way she did, but she knew it was a magical experience that she would never forget.
That night, Clare could not help feeling a little sad as she watched the circus hands lowering the big top from her bedroom window. She had already said her goodbyes to Viktor, and they had both promised to keep in touch, but still she did not want to miss the circus leaving. Clare gazed at the circus program which was now on her bedroom wall. Turning back to the window, she lifted her foot onto the window ledge and reached forward to grasp her toes, “Maybe if I practice hard I could…” Clare imagined herself as, “Clare the bubble-gum girl”. After a little stretching, Clare flopped onto her bed and was soon lost in a world of circus dreams.