Carter Crosby

Applause Issue 32 Label

The Busker

My mother hands me several quarters. I immediately think of what I can spend them on– but before I can tell her, she turns me around.

There is a soft-looking man with curly white-orange hair and a beard. He plays a guitar.

His case is open on the ground. My mom nudges my back.

She signs to me, “Go.”

I walk up to the case and see there are other coins. I thumb at the fringe on my little dress and toss my coins in. I look at the man. He is the same height as me sitting on his ledge, but if he stood he would be very tall. He looks at me and smiles, then says something I can’t hear. He notices my mother and she points to her ears. He nods at me.

I watch him sing. He looks around at passing people. He looks at my mother and me. He looks out a lot.

The veins in his neck burst out and sink in. It’s like his life wants out. Sometimes, when I think they might pop out, he closes his eyes. He scrunches his forehead. Sometimes he smiles. His eyes say he is looking for someone he has lost.

Suddenly, I miss my father. I don’t stop watching.

The man finishes playing. He looks at me. We stay in each other’s eyes for a moment. He reaches out to me. I shake his hand.

I look back to my mother, and she waves to him. She says nice things to him. I can tell they are nice, because she is glowing. People glow when they are happy.

My mother takes my hand and we leave. When I look back, he has already started another song. There are new people passing by, but now he is glowing, too.

Carter Crosby is a Virginia-born writer, actor, and musician with the same birthday as Whitney Houston. Supposedly, he can do a great Kermit the Frog impression and is totally not afraid of the dark.

We want to SEE your work

Applause publishes poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, visual art, and photography that exhibits practiced craft and polished style. We are interested in authentic and personal work that displays an understanding of craft and creativity. We want work that honors tradition and respects risks.