How two unlikelys met and fell in love over an afternoon at the fair.
|938 words Emotional Roller Coaster by Josh Stone Waters
He hadn't ridden rides since the last time he went on a date when he was nineteen. It was at a carnival. That was fourteen years ago. Back when he could still believe lies and fall in love. Back when he still bought into you can be anything you can dream. The warm wind tickled his memory with wisps of cotton candy and the shrieks of a thousand youths who still had something to live for. He whipped his parted black hair to the side and out of his bespectacled eyes
They all looked the same, the rides- iron giants promising G-force driven elation and an excuse to press your body into hers around every turn. He couldn't remember what it was like to ride them. They were more intimidating now than they were then but all in all he figured it would be the same as when he was a kid.
Just another charity case in a long line of set-ups by concerned friends and nosy family members (the same ones that always assume just because your single your desperate, the same ones who always answered She's really sweet every time you ask what they look like), he had wheeled his chair along side of her and the other members of their group who had traveled to the capital for the state fair as they made their way up and down every aisle, sampling every greasy concoction he had never imagined existed let alone smelled so good. She was abnormally tall. Man tall. He'd thought it was nice when she had cast a shadow on him.
You'll know, they'd say. It's what they'd always said without fail like some one-size-fits-all cosmic wisdom.
Well how descript of you and thank you very much.
So he'd know. It was ingenious. Why, oh why, hadn't he thought of that. The brilliance of it, the simplicity of it, the-
The gate opened as the ride slowed to a stop. He followed her to the door of the booth where she ducked inside like a tree vanishing into a cave. His friends lifted him out of his chair and placed him behind her on the weathered and stained vinyl. The gate latched and the lunar explosion clickity-clacked to life, faster and faster with each revolution.
He had been epically wrong. It was nothing like the last time. There was a world of difference between riding these monsters in your teens and surviving them in your thirties. The first ten seconds had been fun but there was a point at which it changed. A place where it went too far and turned. Without the use of his legs, controlling the movement of his upper body and resisting the throws of gravity was impossible. He felt waves of green overtaking him and something (either the gyro, or the funnel cake or the Chan's chicken on a stick) was knocking at the door of the back of his throat desperately wanting out.
He stared into the back of the tall girl and the soft yellow hoodie as she straddled the bench style seating facing away from him. Behind him, the rest of his party whipped this way and that as the cart strafed around one turn after another. He'd never lost a meal in public and would have thought himself impervious but as his guts steadily wretched everything in him closer to the top he became persuaded of the inevitable. All the bright colored lights and paint from clowns' faces blurred into one convulsing, head-spinning nightmare that beckoned him to regurgitate. If he could just stop the spinning, stop seeing it, maybe he could hold it in.
How long was this ride gonna last? He remembered them being not nearly long enough but this one never ended. He was sure he'd had a birthday come and go by now. Beads of cold sweat broke out on his forehead to be quickly dried by the gusting air. The cooling effect gave him a fleeting comfort. Maybe If he fixed his eyes on something stationary he could imagine he was sitting still- close his eyes and be somewhere else. He focused on her right shoulder and told his mind to stop spinning, willed it to be still, commanded his stomach to settle. A bump in the track sent the cart airborne momentarily and jarred his body past the point of no return.
He threw his arms around her stomach and buried his face in her plush shoulder, the fear of appearing to make a move on her mid-flight paling behind the embarrassment that would follow if he refunded all the vendor's goods to them from the lofty height. Heck of a first impression. Now that the damage of the uninvited contact was done, he squeezed hard, anchoring himself to her, holding as still as he could.
God please don't let me splash these people.
She perceptively patted his head and yelled above the racket, “If you throw up on me I won't mind. I can wash this hoodie.” Amid the sick experience, this brought a smile. He relaxed and melted into her. She had a wonderful smell. The ride began to slow and the clacks grew farther apart. Everyone exited and he plopped back into his chair and they pushed him down the way toward the ring toss. That sounded much safer. As they went they laughed and this time they held hands. He looked up at her face four stories above him smiling down at him and blocking the sun, a giant of a woman, hair all over the place, and, for the first time ever, they were right- he knew.