Clowns

I stood at the threshold of my bedroom door, tensely preparing for the darkness. My right middle finger rested lightly on the lower half of the light switch, while I set myself in ready position, left foot ahead of right, knees bent low for my eyes to be level with the headrest of my bed. Holding my breath, as ready as I could be, I launched into space. It was two steps and a jump to the landing pad, but that second between comforts of lit room and fluffy pillow was filled with apprehension. I dreaded the burglar and the Sasquatch that might have come from the window locked closed, or the nonexistent closet, or from beneath my bedframe, the panels of which extended to the carpet. They could have caught me as I took my final leap of hope, only to drag me to their lairs of darkness. If they did not get me that night, they would the next. This space was terrible, and the fear was real.

Now, I sit on stage, the bright overhead lights separating the darkness of the audience from the spectacle of the subconscious performers. There is a different kind of space here. It’s a gap between the audience, full of conscious wonder, and those on stage, the students in the mysterious trance state, and Roderick, the hypnotist himself, holding the keys to this shift of awareness. It is an innocent space, no seven-foot apes or criminals here. Most on stage will be unable to recall their absurdity shortly after, and motives will not be questioned. The incandescent wall of torches sends a shower of light that is pretty to watch but too hot to fathom.

Up here in the light, my view has a different angle. My subconscious friends are too “spaced-out” to see of course, and Roderick is busy with his games. But the beam from my seat is fierce, white-hot, as it tries intently to cast its flame on me. I go along with the games: I dance, I am at the beach or in aerobics class, and I fall asleep upon command. If I do not keep moving, the light will catch me in a moment of vulnerability. The audience will then be positioned to see that the light shines down on me in a most hideous way. I am in the light, but I should not be. I am one of them; I should dwell in the darkness. If I stay in that light, I will only burn. And what is more, they will not really see what is beneath my scorched skin.

So I play my own game. By now it is a dilemma, of course. I have been bouncing off these clowns for all of an hour- do you expect me to admit that I am not one myself? And there still exists a hope that I may really be like the others up here, lost in space. But more than likely, I am not. 

Do I let them see the pretty sparks, while I sit here in the dark? I wonder if I could have convinced my younger self that there really was no Sasquatch, that there were actually wonderfully magic fairies keeping an eye on me. I think I would have caught on eventually; fairies would have been too feminine, anyway. But giving myself away only creates misunderstanding and condemnation from my friends in the dark- too sudden a switch from fairy to Sasquatch. The option now is quite obvious; the light burns, but it is real. I will walk with these friends, and with my former self, and they will see that the space is true, not magic, not dark and mysterious. The light will burn, but I will heal, and they will nurse me. Taking each other’s hands, the space is not a gap, but a path.

Zach Abisalih ‘15