Wendy stepped from out of the change rooms, usually reserved for sweaty sportsman, to meet a coliseum of twenty thousand followers. Upon her entrance some proceeded to cry out her name, flailing arms in a ‘holy sprit’ fuelled frenzy. Other’s blew horns, slugged beer, participated in half-arsed Mexican waves. Then Wendy did what she had come to do, the only thing she knew how to do. As the crowd grew silent, she laid a square of plastic at her feet and began to weep.
It was less than a year ago that she had been discovered in a primary-school talent show. The other kids had juggled and dropped balls, bribed pet poodles through hula hoops, attempted two key recorder recitals. Wendy however possessed no such talents, she was different and different is what the talent scout, scouring the joint for a ‘Shirley Temple’ like act to exploit in cereal commercials, had come looking for.
For a moment the girl stood before the curtain, stunned by the interrogatory spot light, below her a restless expanse of bobbing heads, rustling sweet papers, cleared throats. Then came the first tear, prompting gasps from the audience as it chartered a path down her cheek. Tears that began as a furtive trickle soon turned to a torrent. Tears that washed the stage floor clean and saturated the shoes of people sitting in the front row.
That night Wendy cried for the simple things that made her sad. She cried for: grazed knees, boiled eggs, for the blind, the deaf, people with amputated legs (She cried at the thought of their lonely cob webbed shoe). She cried for canned laughter, canned tuna and the dolphins that suffered to make it, for the rain forests that lay rotting in waste paper bins. She cried for her parents, now sitting on opposite ends of the hall, dreaming from separate beds. For the hunters, the hunted, her uncle’s wall- trophied with Bambi and his entire families heads. She cried from fear, frustration, for the future and for the past. She cried for the living, the dead- The living-dead, the ghosts she heard pacing in the attic each night. She cried for hobos, the dodo and for onions cause no one ever really did.
The audience, unburdened by the sudden catharsis, rose to their feet applauding and the talent scout, amazed at the lightness restored to his own heavy heart, promptly signed up the child to weep under contract: private functions, shopping centre openings, political rallies, funerals, inaugurations and benefit concerts.
Over the following months, Wendy wept for the homeless, the hapless, the headlines (lampposts crippled with god- awful news). For road kill and road rage, sickness, injustice. For war, false promises, pollution, politicians, prostitutes, priests, black eyes, bruised fists, abortions, overdoses, slit-wrists, smoking guns, veiled daughters and soldiered sons. For countries, continents she knew nothing of. She wept with the collective grief of orphanages. Cried for the suppressed, repressed, destitute, depressed, starving babies, empty breasts, the forgotten, misunderstood, the old, the lost, the tired, liars, losers, beggars, children and their abusers.
It wasn’t long before TV execs, offered her a prime-time Sunday slot where viewers could call in and dedicate the weeper’s tears to whomever they wished. Here Wendy found herself weeping for (amongst others) the rich, the greedy, the displaced, the needy, for people who think too little and the ones who think too much, for circus clowns, comedians, celebrity cellulite,midgets with super model aspirations, for lonely rock stars, dowdy check out girls, people cooped up all day in parking ticket booths. For abandoned things, stopped watches, car boot sales, pawn shop engagement rings.
And when she thought she had finally emptied herself of all tears (for entire oceans do not lie at one’s eye ducts disposal) the Talent Scout announced that she was contracted to fulfil a final obligation.
‘Please sir’ she begged ‘I’m tired of being sad ,I have no more tears left to cry, let me turn my heart to lead. I want to be like the other children, I’ll learn to play the recorder instead.’
‘We had an agreement,’ scoffed the agent, pawing a pile of coffee stained papers strewn about his desk. ‘I’m afraid you don’t have much of a say. Your tears don’t belong to you now, not since your greedy parents singed them away.’
And so standing reluctantly in front of her twenty- thousand fans, Wendy could think of nothing to weep for now, except their collective emptiness.
‘Take it, take it, take all of it’ they seemed to say, thrusting hands as if tossing bundles. Pissing, purging into her as if she were an open latrine, an empty well, now full. Knees buckled as twenty thousand tears trickled from her edges, tearing at her eyes, salt rinsing blood. And as they removed her body from the field (with the same amount of care one takes when discarding a soggy Kleenex) two solemn faced men in black-suits proceeded to display the plastic sheet of shed tears for the audience to first inspect then applaud. That evening the droves returning home sufficiently lighter then when they first arrived.