BellaOnline Literary Review
Keegan by KJ Ward


Monique Hayes

The seat beside you is empty. Let the spinning spokes soothe you. The red metal clangs as the machine reawakens. Fireworks flicker in the foreground, dots of color in the evening sky. You breathe soundly at the collapsing blues and purples. The people below carry won stuffed animals, candy apples with dripping caramel, bowls of fried ice cream. Boys test their strength by making a bell go up with the use of a mallet. Prize-winning pigs boast their worth by displaying blue ribbons. Youíre surrounded by shouting, bursts of short-lived excitement.

Now is the summer of your content. As a girl, you strolled through the woods when the sap was young, your home inches away. Oak and evergreen trees cloaked you with their tall branches. You yelled your name. The echo exposed a delicate timbre. Then, one day, the thunder cracked so threateningly it seemed to peel the sky, allowing rain to enter. It drenched everything around you, trapped you and the trees in its cool cocoon. Rather than suffocate, you moved when it was time, to a farm near the fairgrounds. You made up your mind to be somewhere open.

The wheel creaks as you ascend. It is quiet like you. That was until you signed the papers. Your name never felt so loud, looked so long. His last name fell off like frost from a chiseled ice cube. Your former name was clear and black with your second signature. It was almost forgotten. You murmured it too much, against his lonely pillowcase, above the untouched dinners you prepared, after the unanswered phone calls on weeknights. When the wheel hovers at the top, it quivers until it is calm. You hear the giggles of girls as they tighten their grips on their fresh-faced lovers. You wish they wouldnít bother.

Your instructions are solely this. Feel the light wind cool your ankles, bypassing the leather trappings of your sandals. Pretend your weight is without measure. Recall the rush when you retrieved the echo, the name you lost in the fury of the forest. You needed, loved to put it on paper again. Your tanned hands grabbed the edge of a table for support during last yearís proceedings. Have your hands rest. Exhale energetically. The wheel knows where itís going when you donít.

The view is particular and spectacular. Come-on-be-a-winner games seem innocent in their intent. The milk bottles may topple at any moment. Homemade goods sit for perusal and hopefully praise. The cakes look delicious in the shade. Popcorn spills from cups. Animal crackers enter the deep recesses of the jungles of small mouths. The carousel slowly circles around, allowing the graceful, mechanical steeds to gallop. Itís your first night out and youíre impressed.

You left the courtroom without crying. Something couldnít make you. Maybe it was because it was already drizzling and your cheeks were wet anyway. Maybe it was because when you walked outside, every warm wish you were given was sincere. Maybe it was because you werenít able to find your car. You have yet to lose the Ferris wheel. It returns every May and waits, maybe for you. This lifts you high off the ground. It lends you the beauty of a courtship youíve never had before: imprinting a nearby star in your mind, saving it for when you need more imagination; taking you on trips at a momentís notice; showing you the serene sights of your town. It sweeps you off your feet.

Now, it lowers itself so that you can leave safely. The fifty-cent fare might as well have been free. It was a dizzy dream. But will you remember the freedom of it all? Will you?

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