St. Gertrude's Summer Fair
by Danie Knopf-Weinstein
I had to close my eyes for just a moment as the loud sounds wafted over me. The fast swinging seats has blocked out all noise except the whooshing air past my ears, and my laughter.
The metal poles rubbed against the palm of my hand, sticky with a small child’s cotton-candy saliva-covered hands, or a teenage boys soda cup they anticipated being able to bring on the ride, and the top popping off mid-spin, spilling all over his lap. The sticky-ness has a story, had a story. It’s in the past, one that doesn’t involve me.
I almost tripped on the metal bar holding down the fence as I walked out the exit, or it was possibly my own shoelaces. Everything's a blur, was a blur, a blur like the spinning chairs above me.
“Beth! What are you doing? Your little brother is waiting for you to go on the merry-go-round!” My mother called out. Or possibly my father. Maybe it was Kat, my older sister. I can’t remember who brought us to the fair. The day was busy, and the tarmac was crowded with little children covered in candy, or an older couple sitting together on the Ferris wheel, observing the people.
“Sorry Mom.” So it was Mom who brought us to the fair, probably reluctantly. My voice sounded muffled in my own ears, them still ringing from the whipping air and my own hysterical laughter. I had felt like I was flying in those seats, and I was tempted to slip back into the line while she was scolding Ben for trying to sneak off on his own.
The line was extremely crowded, it almost wrapping completely around the ride. I kind of remember when it was less crowded, a few years prior when the fair wasn’t as popular and there weren’t as many rides.
The plastic bracelet around my wrist allowed me to ride as many times as I want. The sharp purple; no wait, it was blue that year, edge dug into my skin, the unforgiving material refusing to bend with my wrist.
I did it. I snuck back into the line, my small stature being an aid in a crowded area instead of a burden for once. I heard Mom calling out for me, but the excitement of hiding from her was greater than calming her nerves.
I heard a crack from the machine, the ripping of metal overpowering the jovial music emitting from the rusted-over speaker. People around me had backed up, their own sneaker-clad feet shaking on top of the concrete.
I had realized them moving, their bodies pushing me back with the crowd, but I stayed rooted in my spot. I kept my eyes on the cracking metal, before I looked over at the machine operator, and him frantically slamming the buttons on the control panel.
“Bethany!” I heard my mother cry out, some space behind me.
“Beth!” Ben called out, and I could imagine the two of them. The sun always bleached Ben’s bright blond hair in the summer, and my mother’s shoulders tanned easily from her work in the vegetable and herb garden we had alongside the house.
I liked helping her out on cooler summer evenings, pulling weeds and digging little holes to put basil seeds. And tomato seeds. And sunflower seeds along the back of it.
Someone’s fear-filled scream dragged my attention away from pondering about my mother and brother, and back towards the situation at hand. I was standing alone in the middle of the walkway, metal railways both in front and behind me. The metal cracked quickly, but it was like I saw it in slow motion.
My mother repeated my name, but the mass of people didn’t allow her to get any closer.
It broke, and snapped, and cracked, the painted alloy flying off of the machine. The machine operator hadn’t been able to stop the machine in time.
Or possibly he had, and the sudden lack of momentum had been the final push for the crack to break.
I stared up at the machine, my eyes trained on the girl who was flying towards me.
Her hair was black, tied up in a ponytail eerily similar to the one holding back my hair and her fringe was ruffled from the wind and fast speed of the machine. I could almost make out the fear on her face, it quickly coming closer to mine.
It was like we were twins. Expression and haircut so similar that I reached up to curl my finger through the bottom of it, the texture crinkling, and rolling, against the pad of my finger.
The weatherman that morning had said that it was going to be abnormally cool that morning, for a mid-August fair, it was going to be only in the seventies. Mom wanted me to wear a coat, or at least a heavy sweatshirt, but I had argued that it didn’t match with the green skirt I was wearing, and I had worn less in colder weather.
The shining sun was one of the last things I saw before I fell to the ground, pain jolting up my spine from the rough concrete, before it all disappeared.
Danie Knopf-Weinstein is a 16-year-old writer living in Greer, South Carolina. They attend the Fine Arts Center for creative writing. She is assistant poetry editor for Crashtest, and the prose editor for Apprehension Magazine. She has been published in Red Fez and the Eunoia Review, and has won a Gold and two Silvers in the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards.