The fringe and the middle meet when somebody like Emmett Kelly sweeps light into a dustpan.
Kelly is a frowning clown holding a broom, center stage and spotlit. The light floods over him, spills around his feet in a widening circle. He moves about, trying to dodge the light, but it follows him, it dogs him, and it even plays with his head a little bit, this insistent circle of light. Then Kelly remembers he has a broom and he begins to sweep at the stage, all around where the light has pooled. The light shrinks and shrinks until it is the size of a soccer ball. But instead of kicking the ball into the sky, giving birth to life itself, essentially becoming his own creation myth, Kelly tries to the sweep the light under a rug. Guess what? It flies right out the other side of the rug. The spotlight lands again at his feet. It spreads. And that’s why the frown is painted on—his face predicts this fate. Ever thwarted. Sisyphus, essentially. The frown, actually, is tattooed on, that’s how hopeless Kelly is.
The crowd goes nuts.
The light won’t leave. Night after night. The same screams.
But then the entire world changes—as I said, the middle and the fringes meet—when Emmett Kelly finally, one day, sweeps that light into, yes, a motherfucking dustpan.
The stage is clean, except for Kelly, who leaves without a wave.
And then it’s not that the audience can’t see anything. It’s that there isn’t anything to see.
Tyler Barton is a cofounder of Fear No Lit, home of the Submerging Writer Fellowship. His work has appeared in Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, NANO Fiction, Paper Darts and elsewhere. He lives in Lancaster, PA, where he works in a Nature Museum and teaches free writing workshops to residents of assisted living facilities.