They sat in silence. Yenn wondered how many hits the family could take. She examined Pauline’s face. It was filled with pain. And suddenly, it wasn’t.
“The kids will be home soon,” Pauline said with a numb expression.
“I’ll fix them up a snack,” Leo stood up.
“I’ll go water the plants before they get here,” Pauline turned to Yenn.
It was as if Pauline was on autopilot. Yenn understood it. She was trying to be strong for the kids. But surely keeping it all in couldn’t be healthy.
Yenn, for one, could definitely not bury her emotions within on this particular occasion. Another Bloomer generation she’d outlived. One would think it would get easier with time, but it was quite the opposite.
Of course she had been heartbroken when her parents passed away. And the pain seemed almost unbearable when her brother and sister left her in this world. But much like Pauline now, Yenn had to be there for Olivia.
Outliving Olivia… now that was a particularly painful one. Liv had been like a daughter to Yenn. Yenn could only seek solace in guiding the next generation. It was a vicious cycle. Of course, Yenn had been dead herself when Liv’s son Monty passed away. So she somewhat cheated her way out of experiencing that passing. But now she was back, and hurting more than ever.
And it wasn’t just because Astrid was the fifth Bloomer generation that Yenn had witnessed dying.
It was because she felt like Pauline had repeated her mistakes. Not forgiving her own mother until it was too late. And now trying to hold it all within.
And so Yenn wept; to release the pain that had been stacking up for generations.
Inside, Hallie was shedding tears of her own. She missed home. Her mother’s music, her father’s laugh…
Of course, Pauline and Leo were lovely to her. Pauline would play the piano, Leo would read her stories… but they weren’t mom and dad.
“Why me?” Hallie whispered through the sobs.
“Why me?” A voice echoed from the other side of the room.
Hallie rubbed her tired red eyes. Who was that?
“Nothing ever goes right for me!”
Hallie stared at the sad clown in front of her with an open mouth.
“Who are you?” she asked, nervous. “And how did you get in here?”
“Oh no, and now I’m unwelcome here… but of course I would be. I’m the worst!”
“No, of course not!” Hallie said quickly.
“And I can’t even juggle,” the clown continued. “What kind of clown can’t juggle?”
“Uh… I don’t know much about clowns. Aren’t you meant to be funny? So maybe that’s why you can’t juggle?”
“But I’m not funny! You were crying earlier!”
“That wasn’t because of you. My… my mom and dad died,” Hallie’s chin started trembling.
“Oh no! Why is everything so wrong?”
“I don’t know,” Hallie said tearfully.
“And now I’m making you feel worse! I’m the world’s worst clown!”
This clown was the last thing she needed, Hallie thought. She needed to get rid of her, fast.
“I know what will cheer you up,” she said with fake enthusiasm. “Let’s play hide and seek! I’ll hide!”
“But I’ll never find you,” the clown welled up.
“Sure you will… just give it a try!”
Hallie snuck into Carly’s room. Luckily, her niece was already sleeping. She crept inside of the built in wardrobe and shut the door. Finally, she could mourn in peace. She started sobbing again.
“Hallie? Is that you?”
“Oh, hi Carly,” Hallie climbed out of the closet awkwardly.
“Were you crying?” Carly sounded concerned.
“No! I, uh… I was just playing in the closet!”
“Ooh, I just love playing in the closet,” Carly jumped out of bed.
“Sometimes I pretend I’m a dragon and the closet is my lair…”
Hallie watched her niece disappear in the closet and then emerge again, with her arms mimicking a dragon’s jaw.
“Sometimes I’m on an expedition to a world beyond this one, where you can only get to through the closet…”
“You don’t believe me? I’m going there right now!” Carly shut the closet door.
Hallie stood in the room for a few minutes, unsure what to do.
“And now I’m back!” Carly’s head peaked out of the closet door again.
“Don’t mind her, she’s a weirdo,” Vito walked in.
“Don’t worry, Hallie,” Carly laughed it off. “Maybe I am!”
“Why are you in Carly’s room anyway?” Vito asked curiously.
“Oh, you won’t believe it…”
“A sad clown?” Vito raised his eyebrows when Hallie finished her story.
“Yeah… she was making me really upset. It’s like… everything she says makes any kind of sad thoughts you have even more sad,” Hallie tried to explain.
“That sounds awful,” Carly shook her head. “You can sleep in my room tonight if you want!”
“I have a better idea,” Vito said. “We’ll all go in there and make her leave! There’s three of us, and only one of her!”
“This is the worst,” the clown cried out. “I’m supposed to make you laugh, not feel bad!”
“We’re sorry miss clown,” Carly pouted.
“I’m the worst clown there ever was, not spreading joy, but tears…”
Hallie sighed. Now all of them were feeling down.
“Clowns are meant to make children laugh, that’s why children love clowns…” the clown carried on.
“Well I don’t like clowns at all,” Seraphina entered the room. “What’s going on here?”
Everybody’s gaze immediately shifted towards her.
“Sera!” Vito jumped up. “This clown here is making us all feel sad. She’s saying the saddest things. It’s awful…”
Seraphina eyed the clown up and down, and then glanced at her upset siblings and aunt.
“Who do you think you are” she said to the clown angrily. “First, you have no right to be here! Second, this is my family you’re bumming out! You better quit it! You’re the worst clown ever!”
“Why, I am!” the clown smiled, surprised. “Doesn’t that make you feel upset?”
“Me? No, why would I care?” Seraphina shrugged.
“Because everyone’s miserable in my company.”
“Yeah, you mentioned,” the girl was bemused. “Well I get why you would be sad. You’re a loser.”
The clown buried her face in her palms: “You’re right, I am just awful. This is awful…”
“You really are the worst clown ever,” Seraphina laughed. “I bet you flunked clown school!”
“I never got to go to clown school,” the clown broke into tears again. “It’s so…”
“Ok, enough with this already!” Seraphina started screaming. “I don’t care about your sob story! I care about my family, and you’re upsetting them. You’re not even meant to me in our house! Get out!”
“But… why am I not making you cry?” The clown asked, baffled.
“Why would I cry because of your problems?” Seraphina shrugged. “I’ve got plenty of my own. Now get out, or I’ll call mom and dad! I bet they wouldn’t want weird sad clowns in their house either!”
“You’re right,” the clown stood up and started to make her way for the door. “Nobody wants me…”
“That’s true,” Seraphina nodded. “And nobody will cry for you.”
As soon as she said that, the clown disappeared in a puff of smoke.
“How did you do that?” Hallie asked.
“Make her leave! She wouldn’t leave no matter what any of us did! But you… she didn’t bum you out one bit!”
“Why would she bum me out? She was a weirdo. Besides, what’s up with the whole sad clown thing? So ridiculous!”
“I guess you’re right,” Hallie nodded. “She was a bit weird.”
“A bit?” Seraphina smirked.
“Ok, a lot,” Hallie admitted. “She was like, look at me, I’m a sad clown! Who cares about your problems, I can’t juggle!”
“I’m the worst! Cry with me!” Seraphina joined in.
The girls both started laughing.
It was the first time Hallie had laughed since moving to Newcrest.