Art & Life

Round and Round: A feeling of limbo

Carousel
Photo by Jessica McWilliams.

Creative Writing

Round and Round: A feeling of limbo

Do you ever get that feeling that you’ve already bought a ticket and there’s no turning back now? Well, that’s how I felt with Colton. “Colt, wait for me!” I cried as he ran toward the cotton candy stand. I heard some vendor in the distance calling, 

“Come, come one come all! You must be this tall!” 

My friend was up ahead and I looked around at all the people slowly moving between games. Shuffling, shuffling. I cocked my head, and Colt turned his to smile widely at me, cotton candy stuck in his teeth and slowly melting away. This all felt like a dream, and I felt like I was floating through, a red balloon…Pop! A girl tossed a dart and giggled as she claimed her prize. 

“You’re not scared are you, Carden?” 

“Me? Why would I be scared?” I stomped a heel in the grass, narrowly avoiding a blue caterpillar that was crawling, his pace much the same as the people at the carnival. That giggle punctured my ears and I winced. 

“You’ve been so tense, ever since you broke up with…” 

“Don’t say it! This is spring break and I don’t even want to think about it.” It was all fun and games until somebody falls in love. Last week I broke up with my boyfriend, and boy what a nightmare it had been. He’d tried so hard to win me back, but he had made a fatal mistake. Now I just wanted to take my mind off it and have fun at the carnival. The strange thing was, I don’t remember there being a carnival scheduled to come to town. 

There was a line for the carousel and I wondered why everyone was so excited to ride it. It did seem to gleam against the cloudy sky and I tilted my head. “Wanna ride the carousel?” Colt asked me. 

“Nah, maybe after the line clears. Let’s find a few games to play, I want to be the one to win myself a stuffie for once.” I skipped toward a toss ball game and Colt had to follow me. 

That’s when a girl wearing a pink dress stepped in front of us, her black hair done in two long braids. She was holding some blue cotton candy and she leaned forward, “I wouldn’t ride the carousel if I were you.” 

“Why not?” I asked. 

“Who you talking to?” Colt put a hand on my shoulder and I turned to him. 

“Just that weird little girl!” I pointed but the girl had disappeared as suddenly as she had appeared. I didn’t believe how fast she was, but there was no doubt she was gone. 

“Come on, I already paid for three toss balls. Let’s take turns.” 

“You go first…” I scanned the crowd for the girl, but I didn’t see her again. 

“Do you get the strangest feeling that we shouldn’t be here?” I asked later as we were paying for hotdogs. I watched as the ketchup slowly dripped out onto mine, like blood from a wound. I was slowly losing my appetite, but Colt had no problem eating his. 

“Why do you say that?” Colt asked around a mouthful of food. It was rather gross. 

“I don’t know. Something isn’t right. The atmosphere’s off. Isn’t a carnival supposed to be…cheery?” I looked up at the gray clouds, it looked like a storm was going to roll in. There was that giggle again, and I looked around. There was the funhouse, and there was that little girl! 

“I want to go to the funhouse.” I snapped and Colt was forced to follow me yet again. 

“Come, come take my hand, and run through playland…” giggled the pink dressed little girl as I chased her through the funhouse. I couldn’t see her but I could hear her. 

“Are we going somewhere with this? I’m dizzy…” Colt looked like he was going to throw up. Maybe he shouldn’t have eaten so much cotton candy. 

Finally, we were out of the house of mirrors and stepping back onto the grass. Right in front of the carousel. The line had distinctly diminished and Colt said, “Didn’t you say you wanted to ride it if the line was shorter?” 

“Yeah, I did say that didn’t I…” it couldn’t be a coincidence that the girl had led me here. But she had warned me not to ride the carousel. Colt was leading us there anyway, and it was much too late. I saw him purchase two tickets and we were in line to ride. 

We were next up and the old man at the gate had the creepiest of smiles. His teeth were yellow, crooked and rotting and his stare was penetrating. It irked me, I was irked. That’s when I saw him, my ex, climbing up onto a horse adorned in orange. He hadn’t seen me but I had definitely seen him. I felt it in my cotton candy heart, that feeling of love was still there. “Chasing after you is like a fairytale…” I groaned. 

I climbed onto my red saddled horse and Colt was on the horse right beside mine. He smiled at me, wide and happy, but I was anything but. I stared at my ex’s back, two horses down from me. Don’t ride the carousel. It felt like I was glued on tight to this carousel. “Hey…this horse is too slow,” Colt muttered. 

“Expecting something else?” my heart jolted when the horses sped up. I felt like I was chasing my ex, and he was chasing me. “I still love him.” Round and round like a horse on a carousel. 

Image courtesy of Jessica McWilliams | Kirkwood Communiqué

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