Flash Fiction: 'Charlie Loved the Circus' by Simon Sylvester

Flash Fiction: 'Charlie Loved the Circus' by Simon Sylvester

The proponent of twitterature shares one of his super-short stories

Charlie loved the circus. He liked the clowns best of all. He liked to sneer at them, and hurl insults. Caught between terror and exhilaration, he fired spitballs at them through a straw. Giddy with power, he flicked peanuts at their stupid misshapen clown faces. He liked to watch the fury boiling beneath their greasepaint, knowing there was nothing they could do to touch him.

After the Saturday matinee, with time to kill before the next performance, Charlie left the tent. He ducked between two caravans, taking a shortcut to buy more peanuts. With all the clatter of the circus, he barely heard the scuff and squeak of outsized shoes gathering around him. And with the wet reek of elephant dung and the burnt sugar of candyfloss, he never noticed the acetone stink of the chloroform …

When the circus arrived into the next town, a new clown had joined the troupe. He was shorter than the rest, and even uglier. Throughout the routine, he was the target of all their jokes. The other clowns tripped him up. They poured custard down his trousers, and kicked his arse. They slammed pies into his face. Between the pratfalls, it almost looked as though he was trying to run away, but they always caught him. Whenever he was snatched back into the centre of the ring, he gave a little joke howl, his face amusingly contorted with pain, and all the children screamed with laughter.

It was so funny, even the sadface clowns seemed to be smiling. Although, beneath the facepaint, it was very hard to tell.

Simon Sylvester is the author of '140 Characters' (Cargo) and The Visitors (Quercus). He tweets at @simonasylvester.

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