Mikaela sat down solemnly, her body jumping as the familiar potbellied man with graying sideburns slammed the gate closed on her. Eyes welling up with tears she began her slow climb. She wasn’t sure why she was here without him, it didn’t feel the same without him, but her feet had carried her all the way here. To the fair that sat permanently in this small town. Internally she is regretting her decision. As the upbeat music pounds through high up sound systems, she fought hard against tears. As the Ferris Wheel took her ever higher she imagined that she and him WERE the Ferris Wheel. She wished that they were forever turning, never returning to the harsh reality of the ground. They used to come here together all the time. The bright bulbs on the long metal strips of bar flashing that familiar pattern of color burned in her mind. Blue, orange, green, pink, and yellow.
“Why am I here...” she questioned herself quietly.
She could have been anywhere else.
It’d been weeks since two close friends sat together on this hard-unforgiving seat. She never imagined that one person’s mere presence would be missed so greatly. As her hand hovered over the green symbol beneath his name in her phone she thought back to how this ride was their favorite thing to get on here. But with that thought, she was beginning to hate it. With every turn of the damn wheel, her hatred grew. They had always been a slow beautiful climax, only coming down to just barely grace the ground with their feet. The altitude always left them heady and giddy.
Mikaela’s hand met the worn leather of the seat. They’d laughed here, cried here, smiled here. Fell in love here... here among the stars, the only witnesses of what she still felt inside. As she reached the top, seeing those same stars, the careful constructs of her heart fell to pieces. She simply knew that the ride could not last forever and that at some point they would have to get off. But see, that aspect never mattered to Mikaela much because they always came running back to wait in line the next day. But now, she was alone, and knew that her desire could not come join her no matter how bad he may have wanted to. So, in a way, this would be her last ride. She silently vowed to take it for the both of them.
I cannot say how long she stayed on that Ferris Wheel. Or how many turns that cursed thing took. But it was only after the smell of buttery popcorn and cinnamon churros faded that she finally came down.
“I’m sorry, sweetheart, but we’re closing in five minutes.”
The man who’d always asked them if they were ready to get off looked at her, and it hurt. It hurt because she could see in his eyes that somehow, he’d known why she was there and felt sorry for her.
“Okay,” she mumbled.
As she rose and stepped down onto the makeshift ramp the conductor stopped her.
“I know it’s hard now, but it won’t last. Love never dies. Yours just stays among the stars that had the chance to watch it bloom.”
Mikaela looked long and hard at the wise man and offered him a small sincere grin. “Thank you.”
He patted her shoulder. “See you tomorrow?”
As she began to walk slowly away she turned back watching as the small bulb like lights slowly faded to black and finally nodded her acceptance. They could no longer sit side by side, but the would always have that Ferris Wheel. That would always be the place where their memories lived. With a dismal smile and a lone tear, she shook her head.
“No. Not tomorrow.”