A short story I wrote recently...................
The clanging of the gears sliding through the complex contraption screech as they rub metal on metal. I glance up at the mammoth amusement ride they call The Monster.
The man running the machine nods in my direction. “You’re next. Just stand on the platform and sit back when the seat swings forward.”
My five-year-old daughter stands next to me on her tiptoes, arms reaching towards the sky. “Momma, I want to go this high.”
We step on the platform as the scoop like chair sweeps us off our feet. As we sail past, the man reaches over and locks the bar in place as we make the turn heading upward. My daughter keeps her hands in the air. I grip tightly to the bar and close my eyes.
The large wheel starts and stops as he locks other riders firmly in place. Finally, we begin our trip. Up and up, round and round. I look out over the festive scene below. Bright lights, a myriad of brilliant colors dot the scenery. The aroma of popcorn, mixed with the burnt sugar smell of cotton candy wafts through the air.
Below us, a man shouts at carnival goers as they walk passed. “Guess your age, guess your weight.”
In the background bells ring, horns blare.
The seat we are riding in stops abruptly at the top. It swings in the air, finally settling in position high above the chaos below. My daughter leans forward, causing the bucket to sway. She wants to experience the view by looking straight down. I grab the back of her pants as she leans farther forward, the bar digging into her tiny stomach below the Hello Kitty tee.
“Sit back,” I yell above the machine and the chorus of noise from the carnival below.
My daughter looks back at me over her shoulder, “I’m not scared.”
“It’s dangerous,” I plead. “Please sit back.”
She sits back, smiles up at me and then pats my hand. “I’m okay, Momma. Don’t be afraid.”
Thirteen years later.
Two weeks ago, my daughter graduated from high school. Due to an early admission to college she is packed and ready to drive with her best friend the four hours to her dormitory.
We stand in the drive. My husband is snapping pictures for her memory book I started when she was born.
I hug her close.
“It’s okay, Mom. I’m not scared.”
“It’s just dangerous out there.” I hold her close, imagining that if I don’t let go, she can’t move on.
“I’m not five.”
As I let her go, I want to tell her that to me she will always be that five-year-old, staring down from the top of the Ferris wheel, unafraid. I want to tell her that her independence and fearlessness scares the hell out of me. I want her to know that no matter where she goes or what she does, she will always be that small child reaching for the sky and my love and my fears will always be with her.