Clown

Drawing: Clown with purple hair, blue circles around the eyes and a blue top hat. Caption reads: "Eric applied the greasepaint."

Clown short story by Iris Carden

Eric applied his face: white greasepaint, blue circles around the eyes, red heart-shaped lips, red circles on the cheeks. He finished it off with the red squeaky nose, purple curly wig and blue undersized top hat.

In his clown make-up and costume, he was more himself than he was in everyday life. He could be accepted as he was, everyone loved a clown, well, everyone who didn’t have coulrophobia loved a clown.

He couldn’t be himself at home, with his family, or even out with his friends. If only he could shout out, “This is who I am!” If only he could take the tablets, have the surgery, at least get rid of the heavy, uncomfortable, sweaty, breasts which constantly reminded him his body didn’t match his brain.

To do that would be turning his back on them all, he knew. They would never accept him as he really was.

He had seen what his small, insular, community had done to others who had dared to admit to being different. They had been forced to leave, to move to the city, to stay away from the families and friends they’d spent their lives with.

Eric wasn’t ready for that, yet. He knew the time would come, the time when the disconnect between the person in his brain and the body in the mirror would become too great. When the time came, he would announce himself as he really was.

Before that time, he needed his clown earnings, to save so he could survive away from home. He would miss his family, despite their narrow world view. He would miss his friends, despite their obsession with boyfriends, and their anxiety about anything outside of their tiny town.

He would miss this tiny, old-fashioned, world, despite the way it would condemn him when he finally showed himself for who he was. He would tell them, one day, but as yet he didn’t have enough money saved to escape to somewhere more accepting.

In the meantime, he had to fit in.

So during the week, he was Erica, devoted daughter, conscientious student, background girl in the group of girlfriends.

On the weekends, he was Eric the Happy Clown, and was more himself than ever during the week. Either way he was acting a part.


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By Iris Carden

Iris Carden is an Australian indie author, mother, grandmother, and chronic illness patient. On good days, she writes. Because of the unpredictability of her health, she writes on an indie basis, not trying to meet deadlines. She lives on a disability support pension now, but her ultimate dream is to earn her own living from her writing.

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