William met Cherelle on a visit to the outpatient clinic. She was clowning for kids in the spinal unit. They’d had accidents like his and now they were re-learning things they’d learnt as babies.

As he watched Cherelle he remembered how hard the therapy had been. For kids, who just wanted to run, it must have been torture. But Cherelle was putting smiles on their faces. Making them laugh. Making them forget.

All he meant to do was thank her, but they’d ended up having afternoon tea. Across the table he found her big clown grin irresistable. Though he hadn’t dated anyone since the accident he asked her to dinner.

But when she got to the restaurant he hardly recognised her. Without makeup there was a sadness to her face. And a sadness to her story too—a childhood with little love and much hardship.

Later that week he called her. ‘When are you clowning again?’

‘Saturday week,’ she said.

‘Can you make me a clown?’

She said she could. Now she was rubbing circles of rouge onto his cheeks and William felt as if his first impressions had been right after all. Her wide, wild grin beamed at him from beneath orange curls.