Shall I Compare Thee to a Circus Clown?

Image of Long Story Short Award - Fall 2020
Image of Short Fiction
Your eyes are green like freshly sprouted leaves, Noah wrote as John Denver's “Annie’s song” played tenderly in the background. No, that’s wrong. Her eyes aren’t the pale green of summer trees, or the rich green of clover fields, they were her green. He hunched over his writing desk, pushing aside half finished worksheets and crumb filled Cheez-It wrappers and began again.

Your eyes are green like freshly sprouted leaves that are the color of your eyes. Perfect! He knew Audry would appreciate his commitment to accuracy. How else would she know he was describing her and not some other green-eyed middle schooler?

Your hair is soft as summer rain. Noah paused, questioning the line's authenticity. He lived in Washington where the rain was more brutal and cold than enchanting and gentle.

Your hair is soft as summer rain in a place where it doesn't usually rain a lot so a summer rain would be novel and the rain is warm so it feels nice and not icy and miserable like it is here, Noah clarified. After all, it just wouldn't do to compare someone so refreshing as Audry to something so monotonous as Seattle showers.

You make me feel the same way I do when I pat a bag of rice at the supermarket. Noah thought about elaborating, but was content to let this metaphor speak for itself. He felt the line was as pure as

When something’s funny you snort like a pig. But like, a really cute pig that’s actually a really cute girl whose laugh I like a lot because I know it’s a real laugh and it makes me ecstatic to know you think I’m funny. Noah paused as he remembered the last time he had made Audry giggle. He had told a perfectly timed, and awfully executed joke in their food prep class which made her snort so hard she accidentally knocked the pan of sizzling vegetables and scalding oil out of his hands and directly onto his torso. The nurse said he wouldn’t be able to lay on his stomach for a week, but his immense grin lasted much longer than that.

If a puppy were drowning you would save it. Like, it’s not even your puppy. You owe this puppy nothing. In fact, it bit you before carelessly falling into the water. But you wouldn’t even pause to take off your brand new shoes or make sure your phone was out of your pocket, you would just jump into the water to rescue the helpless animal. And when you brought it back to shore you wouldn’t even notice how dirty the water had made you or how cold you are, you would just be so concerned for the ungrateful dog that you’d forget you have problems too. I could be the one to notice your problems. I would wrap you in my dry jacket to make sure you don’t catch a cold. Not that you need me to take care of you. You probably would have a spare jacket in your car or something. You’re always prepared like that. But if you wanted you could use my jacket. Even if you hadn’t just jumped into a watery peril to save a dog that had just bit you. I’d let you have my coat whenever you wanted. Noah made a mental note to always carry around two jackets to make sure he could make good on his promise. A sweatshirt for him, and a warm coat for Audry in case she ever jumped into a river to save a dog that had just bit her. Also bandages, in case the bite was bad.

Noah scribbled furiously, his handwriting legible, but more catastrophic than a snake’s who was also a doctor. Plus, if you had just read a book and I was reading the same book you wouldn’t spoil the ending for me. Even if you really wanted to talk about the book with your friends, if I was in the same room you wouldn’t say anything about it because you know that I haven’t gotten to that part yet and you wouldn’t want to ruin the story for me. You would never ever let slip that my favorite character dies because you want me to be crushed like you were when you found out. I don’t mean you would want to crush me, but you understand that part of enjoying a book is feeling crushed when you’re supposed to and not a moment sooner.

You’re like the burnt mac and cheese stuck in the crevice of my pot. Noah’s hand charged across the page, his concentration fixated on his task like the time he played a high-stakes game of Jenga where the loser had to chug a mixture of warm Mountain Dew, American Cheese, soy sauce, and whatever had been rotting in Joey’s backpack since the first day of school. Not even Ajax can get you out of there. Not that I want you out of my pot which symbolizes my mind. You’re much better smelling than burnt mac and cheese, not that I smell you, that’d be creepy, burnt mac and cheese just smells really really bad. Noah grimaced at the memory of his failed pasta and made a solemn vow to be better. Audry deserved the best mac and cheese, and if he couldn’t give that to her, what right did he have asking for her affection?

When I see you butterflies fill my stomach. Not real ones though. I would never eat live butterflies. Or dead ones. I just eat normal food. But if you eat bugs I won’t judge you.

The notebook sheet soaked up his affections like a really absorbent piece of paper as he labored over every sentence to show his devotion as clear as bathroom stalls were not. When he was finally satisfied, Noah folded the paper in half and wrote “Audry” on the front as charmingly as he could and gingerly placed it into his backpack. Tomorrow was the day. When Audry opened it and finally understood perfectly how he felt, it would be like the first day of his life. Well, not literally, Noah thought. It’d be kind of weird if I turned into a baby when she read it.


Audry carefully unfolded the loose leaf piece of paper that had her name beautifully etched on it and began to read. Hallways emptied, doors were closed, the bell rang, she’d be late for her writing class. The world narrowed to just her, the letter, and the stale current of air the school’s old AC unit produced. Her cheeks flushed the color of her sweater which was the lovely hue of kidney beans, her heart was like an enthusiastically drunk metronome, her soul was lifted higher than a, than a... than a thing that was really high. She didn’t really care how high her soul was, she was just delighted that a guy like Noah would put so much effort into making something as perfect as this letter for her. It felt like her life had finally started. Well, not literally, Audry thought. It’d be kind of hard to go out with Noah if I turned into a baby right now.