The Clown

There is a place far far away – past the clouds, and over those hills, over that rainbow and lost in those mists. And in this place hidden to humankind (we will never find it, because human nature makes us blind) there lived a people happy and free. They were not elves, imps or fairies or spirits or hobbits – no, they were no creatures, but people like you and me. They were one with the birds and bees, they spoke to the trees and ran with the wind. They loved under the open sky and danced under the stars. They were a simple people – they loved and lived… and died like all other of Earth’s creations – quickly, silently and unknown. No life was ever too young, and no breath wasted – to have smiled is to have lived according to these simple people.

And yet in this beautiful place, beyond the rainbow – there lived one who did not smile as much or laugh as hard. No one knows his real name, no one cared to ask – they gave it to him, along with the mask. Everyday he packed his bags and traveled around the world – he visited the children, he made them giggle. But when the Clown came home, he longed to rip off the mask and toss it on the bed. And then everyone would see that the smile was merely painted – and underneath was a human mouth that never quite did. As the water splashed on his face, it washed away the stars dancing in his eyes – leaving them tiered with questions he was too afraid to ask. Was it wrong to be so unhappy in a world so beautiful? Was it a crime to feel for something so far in the past?

And so he went to sleep every night, with questions that would fade in the morning light. No one knew his secret – except for a little mouse that lived under his bed. That night he tossed and turned – an old nightmare haunted him. Nightmares were rare things in the land beyond the rainbow – they rarely visited and were quick to fade.

It had been his first time out – several years ago. He had put on his mask, painting it with immaculate care – his clothes were all ironed, the cap starched for better effect.The first two children had reacted perfectly – giggling and squirming with laughter at his every trick. They loved his juggling and the way he balanced a spinning plate on his nose – they laughed when he tripped over his own feet and walked into an imaginary wall. A job well done, the Clown thought to himself, as he journeyed further to a small town.

She was tucked up to her chin in warmth – layers and layers of love. Her eyes had been big and black – full of ponderous wisdom – two tufts of brown hair adorned her head. He never knew what had gone wrong – was it the tricks or was it the mask? Did the juggling upset her, or was it the dance? He did not remember now – the details were becoming hazy in his mind. But her piercing wail still echoes in his head – ever since that first time those big black eyes had welled. He had tried every trick he knew to appease her – he tripped while standing on his hands, and slid on a banana peel. Nothing seemed to have worked. She only bawled harder and harder – and the dream distorted head grew bigger and bigger… Her pretty face was now an alarming shade of red, the sheets were becoming a mess. Clown became upset – he knew not what to do. So he beat a hasty retreat, and vanished through the door.

Twenty years past, Clown was still doing the same thing. He traveled to different corners to make the children of the world laugh. But there had been no one like that one little girl – her ponderous black eyes still stared him down in his sleep.

The next morning something was different – maybe something in the air, perhaps it was something he had eaten, perhaps something in his dream. He awoke with new purpose, there was something he needed to do. He was tired of his fake smile and – if only he could make them laugh for his own sake, rather than the fake mask on his face.

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