Image: “Clown Portrait 1″ © Edgar Cook. Source – CC License.
Author: Leah Didisheim.
Where am I? It’s the same street. I used the same path. And here I am, walking along the trees of this street that I see every day. The street where I have all my memories. Where I learned how to walk. Where I had my first kiss. Along this street, where I live, where I’ve always lived and probably where I’ll finish my life. In this house, my home. Where I have learned what’s good and what’s bad. Where my family lived and where, one day, I’ll probably live with a family of my own.
And yet… And yet, I can’t recognise a single thing. I know it is this street. I am so sure that I would yell it to anybody who would not believe me, to anybody who would think I’m crazy. And yet… and yet I do not know which house is mine. Everything looks the same, but everything is so different. I stop where I always stop. I take my keys out of my pocket like I always do. I unlock the door. And I go home. In this house which I know is mine, and yet looks so not like me.
The painting I bought two years ago is still here, right in front of the door. I thought it was so welcoming for people who came to my place, to see a colourful portrait of a smiling fairy, which is supposed to say: “Please, make yourself at home”. My friends always complimented me on it. And yet, today I can barely look at it without being deeply afraid. Again, it’s the same painting, I know it. I bought it. And yet, it is so different. I take my shoes off. I put my black coat in my wardrobe. I do what I do every night when I get back from work. And yet, even what I do doesn’t seem right. There is a weird atmosphere, which seems to spread. I begin to feel sick.
That’s when I hear it. This laugh. This scary laugh that wakes you up sweaty in the middle of the night, after you’ve just had the type of nightmares where somebody kills you before you wake up. I feel dizzy. It feels like I just got inside the house of the devil. And then nothing. No more sound. I don’t move. I can’t move. Standing there like a stupid paranoiac woman, for what seems like hours, though it might have been a minute. Usually Time is a bad friend. You never know if he’s with or against you.
I decide to move. Gently. And I feel something moving behind me. Again, with this evil laugh. I turn quickly and I just get the time to see a shadow vanish. I don’t know why but it seems familiar. It reminds me of my 10th birthday. My mum had asked a clown to come to make his show in front of me and my friends. It was great. I laughed so much that day. The clown laughed too. It was the kind of clown who has a big red nose and a big red mouth: his face makes you happy. Today the laugh was probably the opposite of “making me happy”. I would rather cry than laugh. The shadow I saw made me think of a clown, but the kind of clown you see in horror films, not at a ten-year-old girl’s birthday. That’s why I remembered my birthday so many years ago.
That’s exactly it. My painting, my house, even my street turned itself into a horror scene where I was the victim: the person who can’t control their faith and is just left screaming; the only thing they can still control… So, I quickly elaborate a plan: I will play the crazy lady. I might scare the clown away. I go to my bedroom. I take some make up out of the bathroom. I generously put some black mascara everywhere on my face. I change clothes: I want some holes on a T-Shirt: something not clean. I can’t find anything like that. So, I use the first T-Shirt which came in my hands. I remember this T-Shirt. I had got it at a concert three years ago. I had gone there with my best friend to see our favourite group, Imagine Dragons. And as usual I had bought a souvenir. A souvenir that I am ruining with a pair of scissors and some red and black painting that I have on my desk. I dress myself. I look more depressed than scary. But I guess that will do.
I go back downstairs. I hear a sound in my living room. With my scissors, I walk silently to the door. It is dark. So, I don’t pay attention. And I fall on my shoes that I hadn’t moved. Fortunately for me, I don’t hurt myself. But it was very loud; let’s forget the element of surprise. It was probably too late for that anyway. One more step. This scary laugh again. It seems to be behind me. So, I turn quickly. Nothing. Just the sound. I can hear it everywhere around me. It turns again and again. Now, I’m scared for real.
I breathe. Funny how we intend to forget to breathe sometimes. I remember what my grandfather told me once: “Take your time to intimidate them.” So, I breathe. Very slowly. I close my eyes and I feel ready. I begin to walk again. One step. Two. The living room has never seemed so far away before. It feels like I’m walking for hours. The Time again. Playing with us. I finally reach the door. I open it. “HAPPY BIRTHDAY!” And there they were. All my friends waiting for me:
“Are you alright? It seems like you’ve just seen a ghost. And how are you dressed up? Is that why you took so much time?”
But was the laugh really theirs? I do not know…