Darren Grey's story 'My Father, The Clown' won third prize in February 2014's short fiction contest.
My Father, The Clown by Darren Grey
My psychiatrist keeps telling me I should talk more about my father, be open about what happened, and about why I behave as I do today.
It's not easy though. So often I wake up at night in a cold sweat, remembering the children screaming, the smell of rubber from twisted shapes of animals, the horrible laughter piercing through all other sounds. I can still remember so vividly my father’s eyes, painted in sadness as he laughed like a maniac. It chills me.
All my friends were afraid of him. He would try to play with them, forcing them to sit as he enacted his gross “entertainment”. His daubed visage leered before them, their young faces twisted in horror and revulsion beyond their years. They hated him, and in turn grew to hate me.
The red nose, the blanched face, the garish clothes. They hover before me in my dreams, pushing on top of me, smothering me till I am forced to accept them, to smile and laugh with them, even though I'm crying inside.
I stand in front of the mirror, painting a forced grin on myself, my eyes still sad as I decorate my body in multi-coloured clothes. I stare at my reflection, wondering is this really myself? Why do I do this? As I affix the red nose I ask myself, why have I become the thing I hate?
But my psychiatrist tells me it’s normal for those who were amused as children to go on to be amusers themselves.