Spiders moved in funny, jerky rhythms. Farcical? Were they like the jester in an old Victorian play? Climbing down out of the mound of carelessly tossed boulders, Trishy Smithson agreed with this description, and said so to Mr. Gwen, her teacher and escort for this fine sunny field trip day.
"Spiders are clowns Mr. Gwen," she finally decided. She glanced down at him as she descended. "People are afraid of clowns, even when all they do is trip around to make you laugh."
Mr. Gwen frowned, "What about the poisonous spiders?" he asked.
Trishy brushed off her denims, stood erect and said, "Spiders are not out to give you grief. All they do is run away."
"Not when a person pokes around with the old five fingers of invasion," he said. "As you were just doing. Not when you invade their home."
Trishy cocked a brow, considering. She raised her second brow and said, "Point taken. But, I'm intact." She displayed her arms, palms forward, straight out from her thighs so he could, figuratively, see for himself.
Mr. Gwen had a face of slack intelligence. His jowls drooped so that upturned half-circles overhung the base of each cheek. He had horseshoe wrinkles under each eye, a nose that appeared to have grown even larger from an original overwrought protrusion, that now stayed in place held only by his thick set upper lip from sliding down over his chin. But, the glint in his peppery dark eyes never faltered, and always hinted at answers known before questions were asked.
So, Trishy waited, knowing that his response would not be critical, but one to heed.
"Trishy. Clowns take off their makeup after the show. When the humor from their faces is put away for the night, what do they then become?"
The easy answer she knew. They became normal. But, was that the best answer? Mr. Gwen asked this of his class often. As she reflected, it was Mr. Gwen who now cocked a brow.
She smirked. "If a leopard loses its spots, is it still a leopard?"
"Ah," Mr. Gwen intoned. "Answer a question with a question. You are on your way to making a fine politician Trishy. But, that is a side step, not a true counter to the subject at hand."
Trishy's smirk turned a somersault. "They're still clowns," she said, smiling. "But, no one can tell."
Mr. Gwen nodded, "Exactly. Truth Trishy. Truth can hide behind makeup, behind spots, and behind a girl's imagination. If you're poking around in a search for danger, then do so with the knowledge that danger is there to be had. The truth is: you may see a clown, but the clown sees -"
"Facts," she cut him off.
Again he nodded. "Very good. So, when you climb the rocks poking for clowns remember the fact is you will eventually find one that does not take off its makeup.
"No fun," she said.
"Practical," he replied. "You'll live longer."
Trishy regarded this thoughtfully, scrunching her mouth, knitting her brow, frowning, then finally letting a grin spread her face. "I'd rather face facts, than live fearing the truth."
Up the rocks she went.
Mr. Gwen tossed his hands. "Child", he sighed. "Child."