• Vol. 06
  • Chapter 08
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Tears For The Town Cryer

It is impossible to find the small town of Mellon Collie unless someone who has really hurt your feelings gives you the directions.

The quiet town is tucked away on the edge of a very beautiful, very big and very silent forest. The silence is broken only by birdsong, the gentle rustling of leaves, and the even more gentle sound of barely suppressed sobbing.

Tristan, the Town Cryer, has been doing all of the crying for the town for almost 20 years. It isn’t an easy job at all — it is physically and mentally demanding. But someone has to do it. He has been elected Town Cryer every year since he became eligible to apply, and he is proud of his perfect track record of tears.

Every day, Tristan wakes up at the same time. The clock in the town square strikes six, and he puts on his dressing gown, goes downstairs, makes himself a strong cup of coffee, and checks the letterbox. Every day, his routine is the same but the letters are different. His job is never boring.

The residents of Mellon Collie use different-coloured envelopes depending on the kind of crying they need Tristan to do for them.

Bright red for angry crying. Charcoal grey for loneliness. Deep, bruised purple for heartbreak. Queasy green for homesick tears. An even queasier green for chronic pain. Burning, shameful orange for failed exams. White for the emptiness of rejection. Pink for embarrassed crying. Grey the colour of rain clouds for regret. A flat beige for news stories that get you choked up.


Tears For The Town Cryer

Glossy black for bereavement. And so, so many different shades of blue — for a fight with a friend, for being insulted by someone you respect, for realising you’ll never be beautiful enough, for feeling sorry for someone, for feeling sorry for yourself, for disappointment with a family member, for feeling misunderstood, for realising you don’t love someone anymore, for realising you still love someone…

There’s a colour chart taped to his fridge, just in case he forgets what a certain shade means, but over the years he’s learned them all by heart.

Tristan finishes his coffee, arms himself with his letter opener, and reads through the rainbow of reasons to cry. He makes notes of any particularly significant details, to bring with him as prompts.

Once he’s finished reading, he goes upstairs, draws his bath, and while he washes he decides on the order in which he will do his crying. Then, suited, booted, pocket-squared, he dons his fedora and heads to the forest.

He prefers to cry in a particularly secluded clearing, where he feels even more alone than usual. It’s easier to cry for the others when he is somewhere that makes him cry of his own accord.

But on this particular day, he is stopped in his tracks. Because slumped at the foot of the tree is a beautiful woman, with tears coursing down her cheeks. She is crying for him.