Here’s a flash fiction example coming in at just under 600 words. I will typically come up with these premises based on some behavior I observe in real life. Real life inspiration, in other words. In this case, I thought about how unfortunate it is that people might want to be taken seriously despite who they are. Hence, the clown.
If you’ve got access to New Yorker Magazine, read this flash fiction example, also under 600 words, to see how great these little stories can be.
The cohort for the Clown School class of 2022 met in the lotus auditorium on a cool September afternoon in Los Angeles. The black curtain covered the stage, everyone waited for the president of The Clown School to make her grand appearance.
Everyone except Jecinda expected the grand entrance, anyway. Jecinda expected a normal entrance, if only because everyone expected the grand entrance, and clowns like to surprise.
“Why hello Clown School students,” said a voice coming from somewhere in the middle of the auditorium. And there among the prospective students sat Judy Hall in a big red nose. She stood up and bowed in exaggerated motions. The class smiled and clapped as she walked onto the stage.
“Clown school is a great joy and sometimes a great pain,” she said. “As a clown you’ll be loved for your entertainment, and ridiculed for it as well. But you’ll be a clown, and that’s just part of it, and clowning is a noble vocation.”
Jecinda studied all the great clowns that had come before. She memorized all the great bits and developed her unique clown style and voice. She learned from the clown book a series of acts, her main bit was driving the tiny clown car.
One day, Jecinda got hired as part of the regular clown acts at the local Los Angeles Rodeó to perform her famous Tiny Clown Car act. Over the years she developed chronic pain her her back and neck. In the dressing room with the other clowns she finally shared her ills.
“I have pain in my hips,” she said, “It happens now every time I get in and out of my clown car. Every time I do the bit.”
The other clowns looked at her and laughed, “She’s so funny!” The clowns said to each other, “Just like in her Tiny Clown Car act,” someone else said.
“Hey guys,” Jecinda said, “I’m being serious.” She began to get annoyed. They kept laughing and laughing, and Jecinda started to choke up.
“Guess what, Jecinda,” one clown chimed in, “That tiny clown car routine is meant for short clowns. You’re a tall clown. No wonder it hurts!”
They roared with laughter.
“Well, I wish they would have taken tall clowns into account when they wrote it. Maybe if I had a bigger car.” Jecinda said. “Look, my neck is hurting so bad. It’s killing my posture, I have to take Motrin every night.”
“Listen,” said the one clown, beside herself, “When I heard about your pain in the neck, I almost laughed out loud. You think you’ve got a pain in the neck? Look at me!” She pulled out a special neck pillow and ice pack, “I have to use these every night!”
The laughing had stopped now and was replaced with sneers. “Yeah Jecinda,” said another clown, “everyone gets pain in their neck. Yours is no different from mine, or any one else’s.”
“Plus you’re still a clown,” said the first clown, “and clowns are funny. You’re a funny clown.”
They all started laughing again when Jecinda stood up and walked out of the changing room.
“I wasn’t trying to be funny,” Jecinda thought, “I really do have pain. I don’t know if it’s worse or better than anyone else’s. I don’t know if it’s my fault. I just know that what I have, hurts.”
Jecinda sat down on a folding chair in the hallway with a bottled water and her Motrin. “But I guess they’re going out laugh because after all, I’m just clown.”