Bubble Juggler Added£0.99
Add to basket
(A short story of 4806 words)

Bubble Juggler


by Maria Herring

A macabre tale inspired by the haunting artwork of Andrew Kinsman.

A clown. It stared out at her from the window of Oxfam and wouldn't let go of her gaze. Not that his eyes were fixed on hers, no one's eyes ever were. Instead, they stared at the delicate bubble that glinted in unseen light, forever trapped in time. Or perhaps he stared off into the far distance at the horizon beyond her shoulder, or at a disappearing memory of a happier time before he was trapped in his gilded cage.

She opened the door and walked in, her nose automatically wrinkling at the stale smell of an accumulation of unwanted things.

“How much for the clown?” she said.

The elderly woman, fastidiously marking the page in her crumbling book with a crumbling finger, looked at her, perplexed.

“In the window there,” she said, turning and pointing.

“Oh, you mean the painting.”

She nodded.

The elderly woman shrugged a crumbling shoulder. “Five pounds?”

She raised her eyebrows but didn't argue. Wasn't art supposed to be expensive? “I'll take it,” she said.

With one hand, the dusty ancient scrabbled around on the cash-till desk until she found a scrap of paper and methodically tucked it in between the pages of her book until it almost touched the spine, then she slowly closed it. A few moments later she was shuffling out from behind the desk, one hand still clutching it for balance.

“Oh, I can get it,” the much younger woman said, suddenly feeling embarrassed that she hadn't thought of it before.

“Thank you, dear.”

“It's no problem,” she mumbled, covering the distance between the cash desk and window in a few paces.

The back of the painting was nothing more than rotting sheets of thick paper held in place by discoloured tape. When she clutched the sides of the frame to lift it she noticed how cold it was; not surprising considering it had been sitting in a window during a British winter. By the feel of it, the frame was wooden and painted gold, but as she lifted it from the shelf she gasped a little in surprise...

What others say about Bubble Juggler - Add your review



Review from the CUT team....

Clowns. For some they are symbolic of the enjoyment of a childhood trip to the circus. To others, they tend to evoke far more sinister feelings. Maria Herring’s “Bubble Juggler” begins when a lonely woman buys a painting of a clown in a charity shop. She soon finds that each time she looks at it, she becomes transfixed. Surely those the striking nature of those staring eyes and the melancholy turn of its mouth are just down to the skill of the artist, aren’t they? And is it just her or is the temperature dropping? A wonderfully chilling short story. Read about Maria Herring, the author.

© 2024 CUT All rights reserved.