The fair was in full swing. I walked on the lightly graveled dirt road, the soles of my shoes grinding over tiny pebbles with each reluctant step. I felt a bit disoriented; I was uncertain of where I had come from or how I had arrived yet again within the chained link fence of this this same run down carnival. The sights were all too familiar as I have been here each day since it arrived to town. There stands a row of vendors and they stand between me and the rides. I decide I’m going on the roller coaster, and my husband who stands beside me loathly agrees.
We meander down the row, the ride we have chosen is separate from the rest to the far left. As we pass the corn dog stand we come across two giant metal arms that slowly rise and fall, like a 10 story seesaw that never quite hits the ground. On the very tip of the arms are giant open handles that run perpendicular to the remainder of the contraption. From where I stand with my friend, he his hair flipped up and his style reads that we are again in our mid-20’s gazing up we observe two girls, no older than 15, and they are swinging and flipping from the handle bars. I can’t quite make out their faces for the sun’s glare and their great distance in flight, but their long wiry ponytails hang stiff as they swing and flip with smooth grace. They are only school girls, dressed in Jeans and neon T-shirts. I gasp and then find myself holding my breath, as I have everyday of this dreaded fair. This is a fad, much like DDR and Pokemon Go for these kids. The arms undulate as they continue to leap, flip, spin, and somersault. They fly over and under the handle, jumping off and on the arms, with what some would describe as the greatest of ease.
Not as phased as I, my pestilent friend, he’s 17 now in a Tee that seems to drape over his gangly frame, excitedly makes his way beyond their act and we enter the partition that bestows a haunting dark green and purple faded spiral. Suddenly I’m exiting the ride with my best friend, she’s 12 with her royal blue letterman and matching volleyball shorts; she’s so consumed with conversation that she is oblivious to the great danger that looms just above. I try to let go of my obsession, but the trapeze is still in motion. They are performers now, in their 20’s, donned in professional skin-tight leotards. One a white with yellow sequin covered diamonds, and one in white with blue sequined colored diamonds. Their crimped pony tails are now neat buns, and they perform as if prepared for Rio.
As my best friend raves about the ride, I’m caught off guard by a blood curdling scream that sounds like a sound-bit for a haunted house, long, trembling, and unlike a recording, it is real. I watch as one of the girls hits the hard desert surface, her body bounces and flies under the tent across the aisle and all the way through to the flashing ticket booth.
I want to cry, my heart is leaping out of my chest. “Is she okay,” and then there is the replay. I am able to watch the fall, and though standing only yards away it is not until the replay that I realize the screaming is not coming from someone in the audience but instead the girl who is indeed taking the nose-dive to Earth. I also notice the screaming does not pause as her head flies opposite of her body, but instead for the two seconds her face still holds life she is the one screaming; watching her body fly away from her through the crowd. That two seconds is a bone crunching, mind numbing, gut wrenching eternity.
Then there is an eerie dead silence.
I’m losing my battle against nausea as I want to collapse in a shaky terror, I don’t want to see the body, but I want so desperately out of this carnival of chaos. With my fellow spectator, a complete stranger, I follow the bloody path, hoping her body has already been removed, and I’m filled with relief when I find the end of the crimson trail vacant.
It is suddenly night and the asphalt surface of the parking lot brings safety as I escape. My roommate is with me now, speaking boisterously about the incident. His voice is not kidding, but it is not as solemn as perhaps it should be as we pass a large African man in a tan trench coat. He stands under a spot light that is shining on the billboard that serves as his backdrop. It pictures the decapitated gymnast and her partner standing on either side of him, their trainer. All the way from Russia, the dazzling dolls it reads. Through the shadows his face is unreadable, and that makes me nervous, grief makes people do crazy things, like breaking the necks of complete strangers who appear to be mocking the recently departed.
I fumble with the car handle in a hurry, it seems like eternity before I pile into the car, as my husband’s best friend climbs in the passenger side. I fiddle with the car radio as it revs up and we begin making our way to a line of cars that appear to have all had the same idea. But as I pull into the line I realize I have pulled behind a small boat on a trailer. There is a ridged cylinder light suspended from a tall rod that hangs from the front of the boat. It looms a haunting almost pale green glow as it slowly rocks back and forth in the trailer. The center of the tiny boat is a glassed dome, within it you can make out a white concrete coffin. There is a man wearing a navy cap with a black brim sitting in the front, and another man in a matching uniform in the back. They were making their way to the beach so they could set sail and return her body to Russia. How proficient, they don’t mess around, I thought to myself.
A part of Eric’s Taboo Word Challenge Day 1.
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