Over. It’s over.
There’s nothing left to say, I guess.
Nothing right to say either.
Hah. Well, at least I still have my excellent sense of humour.
He was in love, He said. He’d found His fire, finally, after years of cold. Of distance and awkward silences.
I’d loved those silences. I’d thought they were a sign of how close we were, that I didn’t have to act in front of Him. Act like I was always happy and contented.
And not depressed.
I guess I’d have more of those silences now. Yay.
You see, I’m a comedian. Making people laugh, it’s what I do for a living. You probably don’t get it and it’s not your fault, not really. You see, for people like me, we don’t really live like other people. We just can’t seem to feel happy or overjoyed over anything. Life is a greyish blur and nothing seems to be able to bring out any colour.
Nothing except making other people feel joy. Or rage, or melancholy, or pain… We live vicariously through you. People like me become actors, directors, dancers.
I became a comedian.
It was a simple decision really; to me, nothing else mattered but putting a smile on someone else’s face. Even now, just thinking about the sound of a laugh echoing in a bar or a comedy club… heh, a ghost of a smile barely touches my lips.
As I said, you won’t get it. I mean, if your husband left you for another woman, would a smile even touch your face?
Here’s how I’ve always seen it; the world is a dark and cruel place. It’s messy, painful, vindictive and Life is always there just to bring you down further. To me, that’s not a sappy, dramatic line from a Twilight rip-off; it’s a truth that stands, clear as day, for anyone to accept. In a world like that, wouldn’t the simple act of making others laugh be a noble mission?
But that’s the thing, Humour cannot exist without Sorrow.
I don’t expect every single one of you to get that, of course. I just hope that at least someone out there does. I just hope I’m not alone here. Again.
You know, the more I think about it, being a comedian isn’t a job, not to me.
It’s my calling.
I was in another town, in yet another state, when He called. Or at least tried to. But I was too tired after another show to pick up the phone. The answering machine did the work for me though. In the message He left, He laid it all out. All those nights I was out, getting crowds to guffaw and chuckle, to wheeze in delight, He was doing the same to another person.
Michele. That was her name. Said He finally found someone who would laugh at His jokes. Funnily enough, she was a fan of mine; they’d met a few months back at one of my shows. I remember the specific show too: He’d come down to comfort me during one of my dark moods. He came to comfort me and instead found comfort in another’s arms… Heh, I was normally a fan of irony.
Now it left nothing but a coppery taste in my mouth.
When the message finished, I was numb. I had no idea how long I’d spent in that bed. Some time later, decades or moments, I remember hitting the replay on the machine and the depleted uranium ball in my chest just got heavier.
Out. I had to get out.
The large suite was suddenly suffocating. I couldn’t breathe; was I drowning? Slipping on my slippers, I stepped out of my room in nothing else but my thin flimsy sleeping kimono. I used to joke to Him that it made me feel like a warrior woman. A bonafide female samurai.
Now it felt like nothing but a sham; a fine metaphor for my life, really.
Every story like mine deserves a sufficiently sad backstory. Unfortunately, you won’t find one here. Sorry, but I’m nothing but a Regular Jane really. I didn’t have a troubled childhood; I grew up in a small town south of Seattle, to a loving family. As an only child, I may have been doted on a little too much but I won’t begrudge my parents for that.
It was there that I became a human paradox.
You see, I was really just a normal kid. I had friends, I joined a sports club along with the drama club and I did sufficiently well in my exams. Perhaps not to my fullest potential but satisfactorily well. I prayed to God, did my time in college, even met my husband in that town. I was just another Emily Williams, in a town of 4 Emilys and 3 Williams families.
And yet, I wasn’t normal and I realised it very quickly. I could see how people would live their lives, full of cheer and I just didn’t get it. How’d they do that, I remember asking myself one day. On Monday, they’d be broken up over their parents’ divorce and on Friday, they’d be cheering for their favourite sports teams. How could their pain be so… so brief.
You see, I was a paradox. I was just another regular girl, teen, adult. But I wasn’t. I lived my life in constant regret; a grayscale painting, with splotches of too vibrant parts where I, somehow, made people smile. My best memories consisted of third-person joy.
The worst part? I’m certain I’m not alone in my isolation.
After aimless wandering, I find myself on the roof. No surprise really, I’d always loved the freedom of the height, with the wind in my hair and the cold on my skin. The view was beautiful; I could see the Empire State Building from the roof of my four-and-a-half star hotel.
And the music!
When I first left my little town, the deafening cacophony of a city that never sleeps unnerved a small-town girl like me. Now… now it was a comfort. Every city had its own Song and they never sounded the same. The beeps and brakes of distant cars, shouts of alcoholics returning home after a late night of drinking; New York sounded more alive than I felt.
I creep over to the edge like a shy schoolgirl called to the front of the class. A crane of my neck and I can see the ground 15 stories below. I climb up on the parapet and just stand there, enjoying the view and the vertigo. I let the pain flow through me; a nexus of despair.
With every breath, I could feel the knots loosening in my shoulders, the weights I’d borne for nigh on four decades slipping off. The years slip off too and I am left like a newborn child.
With an unfamiliar spring in my step, I paced that parapet like a high-ropes dancer.
I don’t know when I noticed him, but he was there. I felt a jolt at first, I’d thought it was Him. But it wasn’t. I’d caught a glance of him while pacing that parapet and his build was all wrong; too skinny and lanky, like a boy barely entering his manhood years. On my next lap, I recognised his uniform as a bellboy for the hotel.
He still hasn’t noticed me yet. He takes out a stick from his pocket and a ruddy glow from a lighter lights up the night. Sneaking up here for a smoke; smart boy, enjoy life while you can. Suddenly, he jerks and the lighted end of the cigarette tumbles to the floor; he’d noticed the high-flying samurai woman.
I continue pacing while he decides what to do. Pace some more as he works up the courage to talk to the kimono-clad dancer.
“Uh… Ma’am?” he squeaks out. He has a cute voice and it’s clear he doesn’t really know what to do. Did he think I was a sleepwalker? “Uh Ma’am, that’s kinda dangerous. Would you come down please?”
I decide to talk to him. After all, I’m practically single now, right?
“You wanna know something about the world, boy?” I purr out, deep and throaty, never stopping the necessary pacing. At this point, I wouldn’t even be able to stand still anyway. “It hurts you. It beats you til you’re down, then stomps on your back some more,”
“That is unless, of course, you can find The Joke.” I go on. It feels like I was always meant to give this lecture. “You see, Life can never get so hard that there is never a joke to fill the awkward silences. Sometimes, even the worst pains are the sources of the best jokes.”
“Really, anything is a joke, if you laugh hard enough.”
“I-I don’t get it,” he stammers. Of course he doesn’t, poor boy. Well, I suppose I had better use an example to teach him. I force my feet to hold still and face him directly. Folding my hands behind my back, I compose my killing joke.
“You know, I’m a comedian and I was gonna share with you this joke about this suicidal, grief-stricken woman. This woman who lived her life in shades of gray. Who just didn’t understand how the world really worked.”
I lean back, slightly.
“Unfortunately, I’m afraid it would fall flat,” I say as I leaned back some more.
As the wind rushes by, I finally revel in the sound of my own laugh.