Crying All the Way
I felt extra lucky today, so naturally, I ventured down the most dangerous path I could. My adventures brought me forth into a castle. Before me sat the most alarming, ominous creature your imagination could draw up. His blue belly expanded out farther than usual, which was a good sign. He had been freshly fed; he might be in a, uh, decent mood. This creature's frowns had frowns. His eyes seemed permanently fixated on something on the wall. They hadn't moved for minutes, but they were open, and he was breathing, so he wasn't dead. On occasion, he'd blink, and this movement made his guards nervous.
I was here, quite simply, to do the impossible. I would make him laugh or I would make one of his frown's frowns smile. Once, just once, I made him do this, or I think I did. My eyes were blurry from staring into the sun, which was a favorite pastime of mine, one I don't recommend. Anyway, I came here, and I mumbled something, if only I could remember what, and this fine symbol of grace, royalty, and food smiled. He smiled. It was a very slight, slick upward motion of his left lip, but it was, indeed, a smile.
His smile lit something in me that day. From then on, I discovered my life's passion, and was driven to make him laugh. I even moved to Meridell to decrease the commute. I wanted to do what few jesters have done before, and this was to make King Skarl laugh. True masters don't settle upon finding their passion, and so I restlessly aimed and practiced and perfected my – talents – until I'd do this. One day, the guards would stroll into the castle, and they'd think King Skarl sick from emitting such a strange noise, but he'd be laughing. There I'd stand, magnificent, after performing one of my wittiest jokes, and he'd say, "You, sir, shall be among the royal jesters. For no one can compare to you! You are what all jesters aspire to be."
So, here I was, before King Skarl. The guards had just announced my name and King Skarl continued staring at the wall. I might've taken this as discouragement, but really, King Skarl has excellent taste, and it's a fine wall. It's almost as fine as King Skarl looks after you've been staring at the sun a long time – exquisite.
"Sir, your magnificence, your excellence, your honor, you brave soul, you," I began, nervous. Sweat dripped from my forehead as I bowed. I cleared my throat, "I'm, uh, here to tell you a joke!"
Silence. Like I said, it's an intense wall.
"And the joke is... Fyora's skin! Do you think she borrows hair and skin care advice from Punchbag Bob?"
I looked over my shoulder, back at the wall, and I had to say that that was some great wall. I have no idea how whoever built it accomplished it, but it was nice. Anyway, I couldn't interrupt the admiring of such a fine piece of art, so I bowed and backed off. King Skarl's gaze didn't break.
As I exited, I had to mentally congratulate myself on the progress I made. Really, Punchbag Bob, what an excellent punch line! Nobody saw it coming, except King Skarl maybe, because I used the same joke yesterday, and the day before that. However, my execution, my delivery, and my diction were vastly improving, and I think that King Skarl broke eye contact with the wall yesterday. Yes, he actually gazed at me slightly, and my heart skipped a beat. I was swelling with pride.
Yet, as I left, I heard a sound, but I had to have been imagining it. I heard a voice.
"Come back!" it said.
"Come here, now! Don't keep me waiting!" the loud, booming voice said, and it echoed of the walls.
I stood frozen for a moment, but I quickly gathered the grace I didn't have. Eyes bulging and heart pounding, I, again, stood before the King, who was staring at me.
"You," he trailed off, staring at the wall again, before returning to me, "I have something for you."
This was it! He wasn't smiling, no, and he wasn't laughing, but it he must have been as I turned away. To think, I actually made King Skarl laugh! He was glowing, radiant, or at least he must have been inside. I was receiving the promotion that most jesters dream of, and finally, the moment that everything in my life was meant for was here.
"Oh, but I can't take it, your excellence! You see, fine as I am, to be next to you, oh, I'm so unworthy!" I said, and it was true. I could hardly catch my breath, and I felt a sense of luckiness to even look at King Skarl, especially dead in the eyes. It was unlike any treasure the Snowager could have.
"What are you talking about? You are banned! From henceforth, you are not welcome here! Now, I need to know who your friends are!"
"Friends? I read that book, or attempted to read that book once. Meerca Friends? Feathered Friends? Really, I didn't know you were into books! Not saying you're not intelligent, sir, but those dastardly things are more suited for, uh, the other King. The less attractive one. Your brother."
"So you don't have any, do you? Guards, take him away! Put his name on the blacklist. I never want to see him here, or within a ten mile radius of this place! For days, you have staggered in, inflicting upon me so much pain, especially after I ate, and this shall be no more. I order...!"
"Uh, your honor?" the guards said before they grabbed a hold of me. King Skarl resumed staring intently at the walls, and the guards secured me tightly in their death-defying grips. Immediately, I was carried away from the castle, cast out like a vagabond, and I could feel my dreams slowly dissolving.
The mud wasn't nice. Mud's nice when you are young, and you play in it, and throw it at others, but now it wasn't nice. However, it was my only friend. The soft, wetness of it kept me company. It clung to me; I clung to it. With nowhere to go, I sat there, defeated. To be honest, this wasn't the first time I befriended the mud. Actually, you could still vaguely see the marks of where I landed last time I was thrown, which was, eh, two days ago. That day I was better disguised, though.
"So, nice seeing you again, but I must go, mud," I said, and without washing myself off, I continued on whatever path was before me. I tried to think of some nice places to stare at the sun, but there weren't any at night.
However, it was in that moment, although I felt all adrenaline and excitement leaving me, that my hope was renewed. Although my skin was covered in mud, and although I smelled of dung, my heart was still beating. I was still alive, and I still very much appreciated a witty joke. My passion wasn't "muddied" by today's events. It flowed through my veins, drove me to continue on, and in every way, consumed my soul. It was a smile-hungry flame that not even the darkness of a starving King Skarl could diminish. And so, I vowed to return.
It was a crisp, autumn morning, and the leaves were hinting at winter. Slowly, they became freckled with yellows and crimsons. A soft, gentle breeze blew in the air, and I sat out, refreshed and invigorated, to make King Skarl laugh. This time, not only did I have my amazing wit, but I had cosmetics Punchbag Bob could only dream of. With a wig, eye shadow, and some lipstick, I was a new, pretty Blumaroo!
My name was Patty, not really, but that's what I told the guards, and I was here to see King Skarl, immediately! The guards quickly bought this image, and how could they resist such beauty? My dazzling smile and my long eyelashes could get me anywhere I wanted in no time.
King Skarl sat, again, staring at the wall. It was a beautiful wall, but it wasn't as beautiful or witty as me, so King Skarl, for an entire two seconds, glanced at me. I didn't see him smile, and his stomach wasn't full, so he hadn't eaten, but this wasn't discouraging. There's no such thing as discouragement or fear when passion is all you are.
"Your excellence, sir, I have a joke for you!" I began.
"Is it the wig?" King Skarl said.
"What? I didn't think this wig was that bad!"
"Aha, traitor! It is you!" King Skarl thundered, and everyone, even Fyora, who surely was all the way in Faerieland, heard King Skarl's outcries. Immediately, the guards rushed in.
"I can explain!" I said.
"Apparently, being blacklisted isn't enough to keep you out. I can only think of one more solution to remedy your perseverance. You are being sent to an island! Yes, an island, alone, where you shall do nothing but tell Princess Fernypoo how pretty she is! It seems she's suffering from low self-esteem lately, and you shall exist to remind her that it could be worse!"
Everyone, including the guards, gasped.
I cried. I did. Really, this was such an honor. I mean, how often did the magnificent King Skarl ban someone to an island? I was being exiled. I was going to be in company of the beautiful Princess Fernypoo on an exotic, isolated island, and while making King Skarl laugh was gold, being in company of Princess Fernypoo was silver. I could feel the rush of beautiful open upon my toes, feel the soft sea breeze, and picture the pink-dappled skies as the sun sank beneath the horizon. Beautiful.
Breathless and speechless, I was.
"Just kidding!" King Skarl said.
That's when the tears really came! What do you mean he was kidding? From anger to madness, I felt my fist clench, and then I unraveled them after remembering how much larger King Skarl was than I.
"What do you mean! You can't just not punish me? I've come here for how long harassing you after a good meal? How many times has the sound of my voice made that food come flying out of your stomach? How often I have interrupted you from appreciating the beauty of the wall? And surely, the wall feels offended from me interrupting it from being with you! Look, you have to ban me. There's no choice!"
King Skarl and his guards, yes even his guards, laughed. It was a great, bellowing laugh, and King Skarl's eyes lit up. The smile was so large, so broad that it ate his face, and I could feel the room shake from such a strange sound. Dust flew off the castle walls, and the sun shone bright, beautiful, into this once dreary place.
Like I said before, passion drives away the darkness. When you find a dream, a goal, an objective, you have a focus, and when that fire consumes you, there's nothing but want. Bridges form where there was once dark, empty space, and you're on a golden path to your dreams. Here I was, with not just King Skarl as my witness, but his guards as well, making history.
I had made King Skarl laugh.
"Sir!" a guard yelled out, as he stumbled in after missing the scene. "There's something wrong with your face!"
"What's that?" King Skarl panicked.
"Why, you're laughing!" the guard said.
And that's how I landed my job as a jester for King Skarl. For one day, I had accomplished everything I ever dreamed of, and I accomplished it faster than Sloth had accomplished his. It was all mine, right there in my hands, and I knew bliss, happiness, and everything like it.
Then I retold my Punchbag Bob joke and was cast into the mud, fired from my job, but that's fine. I couldn't think of a better way to spend the afternoon after accomplishing your dreams than in the arms of an old, familiar friend. And so, I ventured onward, staring at the sun, being cast in the mud, and always, always making others smile. Whether it was from my joke or my appearance, it didn't matter. I was doing what I felt destined to do.
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