The head nurse looked at her sub and asked, “When is the new Clown Doctor starting?”
“Today, she’s here now.”
“I hear she’s pretty good with the docs and kiddos.”
“Yeah, she’s been clowning kids hospitals for over five years. Dr. Barnard over in Oncology would not let up until he got her here from Harris after he transferred over from there. He was quite persuasive. Fierce actually.”
A redheaded clown bopped down the hall and stopped by the nurses station.
“Hi, I’m Cassandra. My clown name is Cassie.”
“Well, the girl in 203 overheard that she is terminal an hour ago by accident. She’s taking it well it seems,” said the head nurse.
Cassie reviewed her instructions and rules for care and the child’s psychological and religious profile: 12 years old, Buddhist, upbeat, a B student, plays flute. Lots of rounds of chemo. A real fighter.
Cassy checked her make up and then walked toward room 203.
She took two breaths at the door and poked her head in with a neutral but odd expression and started blinking and nodding her head up and down. Her hair, red and curly, bounced and danced.
The little girl smiled at her – granting permission to continue.
Cassnadra held three balls in the door and looked down at them with her eyes big and sideways.
The girl gestured for her to come in with a air of certainty.
Cassie hopped in with a big hop and started juggling: three balls, four balls and then … five. Cassie continued with the prescribed treatment.
“Can I talk to you?” asked Kima.
“You can always trust a clown.”
“Even the scary ones?”
“Yes! Cuz you can trust them to come at you WITH …. A … KNIFE!”
Cassie stepped way back stood tall on her toes with a mock knife high in the air. Kima giggled and then turned grave when she caught herself.
“You can put the invisible knife away. I’m going to die anyway. That’s what I learned today. I wasn’t supposed to know yet.”
Cassie sat down on the chair next to the bed as Kima went strait to the point.
“So where do you think Clowns go when they die?” asked Kima.
“I don’t know, why don’t you tell me cuz I’ve always wanted to know!” said Cassy with a slightly coy but poised manner.”
The little girl got quiet.
“I know, you know,” she said finally.
“Know what?” said Cassy.
“The truth about the soul, heaven, hell, karma – all that stuff. I had a dream about it last night. It was brought to me by my childhood imaginary friend. I hadn’t thought of him in years.”
“Wow!” said Cassy putting her head on top of her fist. “Tell me your dream!”
“I dreamt that … that … there was no problem with anyone in my afterlife … NONE! … There is no ‘karma’ or rebirth like my parents say. We are all JUST FINE AS WE ARE! … I … I … dreamt that the real me is as big as the universe and could change lives like DVDs! And that the real YOU changes life stories just like a DVD too. It was like there was this place where people would just try out each others lives to learn about life’s weird stuff.”
Cassandra spread her ten fingers very wide and touched them together over and over to over dramatize that she was in deep thought.
“Tell me MOAR of this dream,” Cassy said in a mock German Psychiatrist tone. “I think you might be … to use a VERY scientific term … um .. coo-coo?”
Kima squinted and said in a spooky voice, “People even lived EVIL lives by choice!”
“EVIL lives! … Why?” asked Cassy.
“Well, they would come back and TALK about what it was like to be an evil person with their friends. Then they would try out a good life and talk about it with others and compare. I dreamt of one guy who was an evil lion who ate me when I was this guy in Africa, and we both met later and talked about it! And the lives FEEL like they last a long time, but that’s part of the coolness! They only last a few hours in this world but FEEL like a whole life.”
Kima cut through Cassy’s clown schtick with her intense eyes and looked right into her.
“THERE, we can live through a butterfly, or even a snake or a crippled person. In this space no life was NOT worth living! … EVERY life is worth choosing! … Everyone has something to teach – even mosquitos! I even dreamt I lived the life of Kyle Brocher and HE IS A CREEP!”
Kima paused and looked again at Cassy with that strange certainty.
“It’s funny you showed up. Because right before you did, I thought about being a clown. But I didn’t know which one I would like to be like, and then YOU poked your head in.”
Cassy raised one eyebrow.
Kima raised her chin.
“When I go to this place I dreamed of, I want to come back as you so I can help the scared kids who know they are going to die. But I want to ask permission, cuz that’s how it works.”
Cassy nodded. “Okay, ask.”
“Cassy, Can I come back as you?” asked Kima.
“On one condition.”
“I come back as YOU.”
“Deal!” said Kima.
They shook on it.
Cassy stood up dropping the whole clown bit and whispered. “You are going to need something.”
“What?” asked Kima.
“This,” said Cassy reaching into her pocket pulling out a cellophane-wrapped red nose. She placed it next to her.
Kima picked it up and squeezed it. The crackling cellophane made her cry. She held out her arms to Cassandra.
Cassy hugged the fear.