by Kacy Carol
A woman goes to the carnival to remember her mother and is surprised by what she sees.
But, there was one thing that was the same every year. My mother always took me to the carnival to ride the Ferris wheel on my birthday. Even when I was a young girl, afraid of heights, I still went on the wheel, with cotton candy in one hand and my mother's hand in my other. Even now.
Except now, I'm not here with my mother. I'm here to remember her.
I flashed a fake smile at the man at the gate, as he let me pass onto the ride. I climbed into my seat, and glanced out towards the sea.
The thing about the Ferris wheel is that it was never the most exciting ride. It was never the most fun. The only reason I enjoyed it was because it made my mother happy. Every time we moved, we always found a new Ferris wheel. My mother always said the ride was an opening to the world's we didn't live in. I never understood what she meant.
Not until today.
Today, as the old wheel began turning, I finally saw what my mother saw. As my cart took the place of the second, rising every so slighter higher, I saw a world where my mother was still alive. She was standing right next to me, holding my hand like I was five years old again.
"Mom?" I asked, ever so softly. The salty air flew through her curly hair, and she looked so real, she felt so real, that I was certain she was real, and then-
The cart moved again and she was gone. The warmth of her palm against mine evaporated like it had never been there.
I blinked, and I was no longer on the Ferris wheel. I looked around briefly, confused. Then I finally realized that I was back in the Philippines. My brown house that I used to live in was there, hazy from the memory of a four-year-old child.
But, even through the foggy vision, I could still see something clearly. Or rather, someone. My dad. I was here, in the place I'd dreamed about. A world where my dad never left. A world where I got to hear him tell me goodnight before I went to sleep and good morning when I work up. A world where my mom never had to suffer just so we could eat.
I ran to him, sure that he was real. I saw his tired face, grim with exhaustion. I reached my hand out to rest it on his shoulder, but as soon as I made contact-
Gone again. I was crying, ever so slightly, as the cart moved again, and again, I moved.
To a world where I never moved to America.
To a world where I didn't lose my little sister.
To a world where I had friends in school, and not bullies.
To a world where I was happy.
I was crying more now, the tears pouring out of my eyes. I could never have imagined I'd get to know what it would be like, even for a split second. But, that second felt like an eternity as I watched my life unfold in a million different ways that would be better than where I was now.
But then, there was a shift. The wheel rocked, and the air turned cold. The music of the carnival stopped, as I began my descent down the wheel.
I saw a world where my father was still with us, but instead of being happy, he was angry. Angry, all the time, angry. He hit my mother. He hit my sister. He hit me.
I saw a world where we were too poor to move to America. We were too poor to keep our house. I saw my sister die again, but this time, it wasn't to the ocean. It was to starvation on the street.
I saw a world where my mother was lying in a hospital bed, disease-ridden. She was frail. She was weak.
But then, it changed again.
I was in a world where I was sad, even though everything around me was great. I was in a great place, both figuratively and literally. I had a house, and a job, and the capability to take care of myself. I had everything I ever wanted.
Even as I was crying, I gave a real smile to the man standing at the gate. I walked home, wondering when the next world would flash before me.
It never did.