Saturday, July 18, 2009


This short story is in response to
Click on the above link to join in or read other entries.

How it works: Raven supplies two sets of words (or phrases) to use in a piece of writing. One can choose the ten- or five-word challenge ---or combine both into a fifteen word mega-challenge.

Mega Challenge: corn pone, delegation, nectarines, happiness, 12 going on 13, prancing horses, magenta, butterflies, fragmentary, arthritis, lavender cowboy, over the moon, preparation, zebra, area rug
(Words from the challenge are in bold face in the story.)

Darla had been trying to rid herself of her phobias for years. Her therapist convinced her that some of them were not a problem. If she stayed away from the African section at the zoo, she wouldn’t have to address her fear of zebras. She wasn’t likely to run into one in her ordinary life.
She had never been able to take her children to the circus because of her fear of clowns. When she was 12, going on 13, a clown had jumped out at her from a dark alley on Halloween and ever since then she burst into tears when she saw a clown, even on TV.
Now Darla was a grandmother and she was determined to take her grandchildren to the circus before the arthritis in her knees got any worse.
In preparation, her therapist helped her to use the computer to make famous people into clowns, first by changing the colors of their clothes, then adding white faces, red noses, broad mouths, and wigs. She made clowns from photos of beautiful movies stars like Angelina and Brad. She made clowns out of politicians. Bill Clinton already had a large red nose. She even made one from a photo of herself. Gradually she became accustomed to looking at the silly faces and was able to look at the clown pictures without crying.
Then her therapist had her visit a clown in his home. He met her at the door without makeup. As she watched him put on makeup, the gradual transformation to clown didn’t frighten her. Only after he donned his wild magenta wig did she feel like there were prancing horses in her stomach. She backed up and almost tripped over an area rug. She kept telling herself, “He’s just a man in makeup; he’s just a man in makeup” until she calmed down.
Her friends formed a delegation to support her. They told funny stories of clown acts and offered to accompany her to the circus. But Darla decided she could do it on her own.
On the big day, Darla made lunch for herself, Jon and Jessy. She packed Jessy’s favorite fruit, nectarines and Jon’s favorite food, his grandmother’s famous corn pone baked with crumbled cooked sausage mixed in the batter. They ate their lunches in the park across from the huge tent that had been set up for the circus.
As Darla discarded the wrappings from lunch, she had butterflies in her stomach, but she gathered her courage and entered the tent with her grandchildren.
The master of ceremonies was the famous Lavendar Cowboy, who wore a violet silk shirt, purple suede chaps, and a lavendar felt cowboy hat. Even his white horse had lilac ribbons in his main and tail.
Jon loved the lions and tigers, while Jessy thought the trained horses with acrobats on their backs were over the moon.
Without warning, twenty clowns ran from behind a curtain. Darla gasped. For a fragmentary second, she was terrified. She quickly closed her eyes and kept saying her mantra, “They’re ordinary people in makeup” over and over. Jessy grabbed her right hand. Then Jon grabbed her left one. When she heard them both laughing, Darla opened her eyes. Then she started to laugh, too.
Darla decided that happiness was overcoming her own fears and spending a perfect day with the grandchildren.
Next on her agenda, her unreasonable fear of thunderstorms.

* * * * * * *
Can you guess the name of the famous person whose
photo was used to make the clown image?

* * * * * * *

Update: 7/24/09: see which famous person was
used to create the clown HERE.

(©2009, C.J. Peiffer)


Raven said...

Awww... sweet story. I was afraid there for a moment that the clowns were going to come riding out on zebras... Glad there was a happy ending.

Thanks for next week's words.

Akelamalu said...

I'm so glad Darla conquered her fear for her grandchildren's sake! It's what you do when you have grandchildren. :)

I don't recognise the clown.

Dr.John said...

I suspect that this may be the most creative use of the words I will see all day.
It is just fabulous.
The character lives. One feels with her. One cheers for her.
Well done

Fandango said...

We wonder if she is afraid of dragons. Some people are you know. Glad she got over her fear of clowns because clowns are funny.
We enjoyed the entry.

Heather said...

That's great. I'm not a fan of clowns but am OK to see them at a circus, so long as IT does not have vampire teeth,walk out from behind sheets hanging on a clothes line or grab my ankle as I walk by a drainage grate aside the road.

Argent said...

Cracking story. I could use some clown therapy myself as I have always found them deeply disturbing for some reason and quite a few people I know have the same feeling. Brilliant story development though. Thanks.

Stephen said...

Some fears are well-founded. Besides their strange appearances and unpredictable, aggressive behavior, clowns look like dead things come back to life, with their pale faces and the dark lines on their eyelids simulating the stitches that used to be used to sew the eyes of dead people shut. (Can you tell I find clowns a little creepy myself? I used to like Clarabell on Howdy Doody, though.)

I enjoyed the story, and I'm glad Darla is working on getting rid of her fears. It is possible to be too afraid of things.

Stephen from Scottsdale, Arizona, USA

CJ said...

Thanks for all the comments. I can see that many of you are not fond of clowns. I admit I am not either, although I'm not afraid of them. Rather than being funny, I think many of them are rather sad. I never thought about it before, but I think Stephen is correct about them looking rather 'dead' with white faces.

Stephen: You are showing your age. I watched Howdy Doody, too.

Raven: I almost had the zebras in the circus, but I believe I read somewhere that zebras cannot be trained, so I decided to leave them out of the circus. Does anyone know if that is true?

Next Saturday I will post a before and after photo of the clown---and maybe the progression to get from man to clown or vice-versa.