As the stage clears and the curtain slowly rises once again, the clown cartwheels into the spotlight.
Something about it looks very sad.
Maybe the black jester hat pinned securely to the faintest wisps of fiery red hair.
Maybe silvery black jump suit encasing the sinewy body like a ballerina.
Or maybe the black tears of mascara against white foundation.
This clown does not smile. It is meant to inspire smiles and laughter, but it does not smile.
It does not have to.
Something about the way it pirouettes makes the crowd hold their breath. It jumps, it leaps, it bounds all over within the little halo of light.
As it jumps and twists thrice in the air, another sharp intake of breath can be heard throughout.
It lands, and the audience claps.
As the other performers file in to take a last bow, it smiles a small, sad smile. No one sees it.
They take a bow, and the curtains drop down, shutting away the audience.
The act is over, and the black tear falls to the ground and splashes into a thousand small drops.
No one notices.