“Come on, dad, race ya!” My daughter yelled, running for the brightly lit ferris wheel. Of course, she reached it first, my fifty year old legs betraying me.
Grabbing her seat, I also tried to slide in.
“No, dad! God! Get your own seat!” she said, horrified.
Oh yeah, the teenagers code of ethics. Never look like you’re having fun with your parents. I rolled my eyes and waited for the carny to lower the next seat which had a child in it of about seven. Where were her parents? Reluctantly, I slid in next to her, not feeling very comfortable with this arrangement.
The carny put the rope across the entrance signifying the wheel was full, and started her up. I loved the carnival. The smell of popcorn, cotton candy and corndogs. The empty promises of the barkers as they lured you over to their concession stands and games. But most of all, I loved the Ferris wheel. I closed my eyes, feeling that familiar drop of my stomach as the wheel made its first revolution. As I came up and over the top, I looked over at the little girl and saw her staring at me. She was painfully thin, pale, and looked terrified. The Ferris wheel made its next revolution, crested the top, and then suddenly it stopped.
“Daddy! What happened! Why’d we stop?” Clarrisa yelled up from below. “I’m not sure baby, just sit tight. It’ll be okay!” I answered, yelling over the music. “Sometimes these break, ya know,” a small voice said.
“What? No, no, it’s okay, honey, it’s not going to break,” I told the child. “Where’s your mom?”
“Sometimes people even fall out and die,” She told me, looking at me with strange, dark eyes. “I wish I could get down.” “It’ll be alright, you’ll see. It’s just a little glitch, is all. What’s your name?” I asked her, trying to get her mind away from how high we were. “My name is Catherine,” she answered, her pale hands gripping the safety rail.
“I can’t find my mom.” Startled, I looked closer at the child. Pale, her long, dark hair hanging loosely down her back, she stared straight ahead with her hollow, dark smudged eyes. The Ferris wheel lurched forward and I heard my daughter shriek in surprise. It moved downward until it came to another stop, letting Clarissa off. Then making an entire revolution, it finally came to rest, letting me disembark as well. I turned to tell the little girl to follow me to the lost and found, but she had vanished into the crowd. “Clarissa, honey, did you see where the little girl went to that I was sitting with?”
“Don’t be silly, daddy,” she laughed. “No one was sitting with you!”