You Can’t Make Friends…
A short story by Elizabeth Teal
I was speaking with a friend of mine recently, and she was telling me how her daughter was going to have a blue bedroom. Ah, I thought blue is a lovely colour for a bedroom, serene, peaceful and calming….or is it???
Memories of a childhood bedroom came flooding back to me. It was a wonderful room at the top of the stairs at my grandfather’s house. Long and skinny, and because it was at the top instead of being square or rectangular like most of the other rooms – it had peaks and nooks. There were two windows, one was a dormer window over the front porch, the other faced a lot of big trees. The dormer looked out over fences and fields and if you leaned out of it, you could see the barn. Under the eaves were bookcases. There was a twin bed with acorn carvings and a rocking chair. There was also a closet that you might have missed because the door was right behind the door to the room. And it was painted robin’s egg blue. – “Just like your eyes,” my grandfather would say, his eyes twinkling – “You always have egg on your face!” “I do NOT,” I would protest, and everyone would laugh.
Life was good. Well in general – after all who are you to say it wasn’t. I was still too young for school. There were cats and dogs and sheep and horses and fields and woods and brooks. There was mud and moons and home-made pasta.
So after a day of all of the above, and after a bath, I climbed the stairs to go to bed, hearing my second grandmother, Tante Mary, calling up after me, “I made you a friend!” So keep those windows CLOSED now!”
She ran a very tight ship, even of it was on land – humans slept in houses, dogs on porches, chickens in coops, horses and cats in barns and sheep under the stars. I, however, felt otherwise and would open the dormer window in the hopes that one of the barn cats would come and keep me company – this was usually accomplished by our mutual love of cheese, and the fact that the dormer was right over the porch – and the porch had a trellis covered with wisteria…very easy to climb – for both cats and children. Well up at least.
So in my footed pajamas I padded up the stairs and there, on my bed was….a……………..clown.
The same size as I was………………… Staring at me, grinning. The doll was life size – whatever that means – what is the size of life?? And all the windows were closed. Tante Mary was standing on the landing, both happy and stern.
He? Was made almost entirely out of gathered circles of calicos and bright colours – Tante Mary was listing all the old, or dead relatives whose clothes they came from, and how he was made from a pattern called Yo-Yo the clown, because he was made out of quilting YoYos!
“See this is from Aunt Blanche’s favorite Sunday apron – this is my uncle’s blue shirt – you never met him, he DIED in a terrible tractor accident – what a lovely man… and look, Lizzie – there are loops on the feet and hands, and jingle bells! (lots of jingle bells it appeared) – You can be friends and dance together!”
“But not now, it’s bedtime.”
“He can sleep with you,” she said as she latched the window –she still believed that cats sleeping with babies did the work of the devil, stealing breath, possible souls… at that point I was starting to think it might be the work the life size clown dolls…..
“NO, um well, ummmm… I think he would be happy in the chair, over there….”
“Does he even sleep? … do those eyes close??????”
“Oh, I guesss not, your right, Yo Yo can stay in the rocking chair, and keep you safe all night.” But as I looked at him, I felt he had other ideas….
As soon as the lights were out, and I heard the footsteps leave the stair well. I slid out of bed and hugging my body to the wall as best I could, I held my breath and inched past the rocking chair where the Frankenstein Clown of Yo-Yo Circles grinned evilly at me. I made it to the window over the porch roof and opened it. Carefully, I placed the cheese on the sill – and said a silent prayer – hoping the big grey tabby would come to my rescue….soooon!
Inching my way back to the bed, I slid under the covers, as in all the way under the covers
And fell asleep.
I was woken up by the sound –a jingle then like a moan, or a groan? Or was it a creak? And then a yowl!
I poked my head out from under the covers…
Before me, in the streaming moonlight, the YoYo Jingle Devil arose and launched himself toward me – the rocking chair flipped – and my hero cat – disappeared out the window. But my way out the window was now blocked! I gasped and grabbed for the door to the hallway – the door was stuck closed!!! Oh wait – that was the closet — this knob.. yes, I grabbed it and turned , opening into a hallway filled with moon light – I slid down the banister to the landing, tip toed past the doorways of grandparents and old aunts whose aprons were still intact and made it to the front door. Cautiously I glanced up the stairwell, shadows danced. Heart thumping, I opened the front door to two sets of glowing eyes and large white teeth…
I was saved – long pink tongues washed my tears, and I curled up between the warm brown and tan bodies of true friends. They were bigger than life size – and least my life size.
Together, on the porch, under the moonlight we all fell back to sleep. Curled up safe and sound in the arms of Love.
And that is where my grandfather found me the next morning. As I opened my eyes I heard Tante Mary screaming in Italian, as she ran down the stairs to Grandpa’s peals of laughter and the dogs thumping their tails to the rhythm of life.
Author’s note: I never-the-less grew up liking clowns – seriously, I truly love clowns – real ones. The skill and dedication it takes to be a good clown is worthy of lots of respect – it is not about the costume, it’s about the soul. That said… I also love dolls and puppets….and dogs. Real ones. And friends. Real ones. Oh and no, do NOT let your toddlers sleep unattended with dogs….or evil clowns dolls…..