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Cotton Candy

She sits and watches the busy chattering world pass her by. A young child dances around with his red balloon as his mom watches from a bench. A boy awkwardly summons the courage to ask the pretty girl to split an ice cream sundae with him. A light breeze is blowing ever so gently, making the early summer day just cool enough to be bearable. The laughter in the air surrounds her, and she smiles. The world, she knows, will always keep spinning. No one comes to the carnival alone, but she did. Just to sit, and to be. Effortlessly, not trying to be anything she knows she’s not. It was lovely, ignorant, and total release. The faces around her have no names, no stories, pass no judgments. How can they, when they know nothing of her, or what’s on her mind?
Her weight doesn’t make a significant impact in the overall balance of the ferris wheel seat as it travels around in its circle. She just keeps sitting. Nothing left to feel, done trying to make sense of every up and down. It is how it is, and resignation was inevitable. For the moment, it was okay. Whatever may come, or not, the feeling of total neutrality was better than that of the fight. She could breathe, and the air was refreshing.
Others come and go, get off the old ferris wheel, and move on to do other things, more interesting than riding in a slow circle to the sky and back. They laugh and talk, loudly, happy. She hears their conversations, but never speaks herself. She is content inside her own mind for the time. Some people even sit next to her, but they never speak directly to her. Not unfriendly, just strangers. Neither well meaning, nor ill intentioned. Just there, like she is. And then they get up, and make plans to ride the rollercoaster, or get lunch at the nearby restaurant. Weaving in and out, moving in, then moving on. Never stopping long enough to leave an impact, going as if they’d never come in the first place. But she remains. Not waiting. Existing. Not restless, expecting nothing but more of the slow steady rhythm of the familiar circus ride.
Eventually, however, the ups and downs begin to take their toll. Vertigo kicks in. She grips the bar in front of her for stability. She starts on her way up and feels a bit better. The breeze blows again, and she inhales deeply. For a second, she can feel everything- and all of it is good. She can feel freedom. She laughs, ignoring the stares and awkward glances from the other people on the ferris wheel. But on the downswing once more the sinking feeling occurs and her chair hugs the ground all too closely. She holds on tighter, afraid of falling off, even though it wouldn’t be all to far to fall. Then comes another ascent, and with it, more relief. The cycle continues, and she begins to lose track of any time. No more minutes, hours. Just up and down, up and down. But no one knows the world that’s going through her head. She’s still just the girl on the ferris wheel.
More strangers come and sit beside her. They don’t do much to acknowledge her, nor does she acknowledge them. No bitterness, just a mutual understanding of distance. Most get up when their time comes. A few remain, intent on making their way through her little world a little bit longer. And then after another cycle, they get up and leave as well. All but one. She keeps looking out at the world, expecting the boy to get off at the next stop. But he doesn’t. Not at the next or the next after that. She looks at him, confused, but says nothing. And he looks blankly back.
They don’t talk. They are just there. Just being. Breathing. Sitting. Harmony seems in balance, and they see no need to disturb its delicate rest. The ups and downs come and go without declaring their existence to any but those who feel them. Then the rain starts falling ever so slightly. Not nearly enough to necessitate shelter, only a light misting of sprinkles. It is, like all else, simply what it is. They accept it. Move on. They don’t pay attention to the clouds gathering in the sky. They don’t pay attention to much at all, just living in their slow orbit.
Then the rain falls a bit heavier. They don’t seem to care even now. The atmosphere is charged and ready, but they sit back and let it happen. It all just flows in a subtle way. They don’t question it anymore. What happens will happen. The rain becomes an open torrent, like someone flicked on a faucet in the sky. As they reach the top point of the carnival ride, they are soaked. She tilts her head back and laughs at the sky, irony saturating every inch of her tone. He doesn’t say anything, or look at her. He just takes it at face value. And then the downward spiral comes, violent as ever. The crash is steep and hard. She holds on tightly to the now wet and slippery bar, lightheaded and short of breath, praying she won’t fall. He notices, and looks at her, really looks at her for the first time.
It’s then that he utters the first words either of them say. “Let’s go,” he says, and as the seat reaches the bottom, he holds up the bar, and they both walk off. Just like that, they leave the ups and downs behind, though the tempest still rages in the sky. Words, however, still seem pointless as they walk side by side in the rain. They just walk and walk. The dirt under their feet becomes sand and she bends down and takes off her shoes.
The storm clouds dominate the sky, but light pours in at a few places, proving that there still is a sun behind the clouds. When they reach the right spot between the water and the edge of the beach, they sit down and look out over the ocean. The rain puts on a fantastic display as it pitter-patters over the tumultuous ocean surface. The water churns angrily, as if it’s a great beast that refuses to ever be tamed. It kicks and screams as water continues to fall into it from its mother sky. They barely notice that they’re now soaked to the bone. They just are.
Soon, lightning strikes out over the ocean, and a loud thunderclap shakes the earth. If it crosses their minds for a minute to hide from the storm, neither of them show it. Instead, they sit and watch the performance of the sky, water, and light. The three dance together in a spectacle demonstrating only awesome raw power. The forces that work the storm engulf existence, and soon there is nothing else. The clouds create the lightning, which attacks the water. The air becomes charged with more and more energy from the three conflicting forces. Like a never ending war, they anger each other and it builds and builds until it seems an explosion surely must be imminent.
But the sky clears eventually. The clouds have rained themselves out of existence and the water calms to its usual steady beat of waves crashing on the shore. After who knows how long sitting on a rain soaked beach watching nature light up the sky, they look at each other. “Thanks,” she says, and smiles.
“Welcome,” he says, and smiles back.
“Why?” she asks. The question is open ended, and they both only barely understand what it means.
“I don’t know,” he replies matter-of-factly. Because, at this point, it cannot be explained. Words as we know them were not enough for this storm.
Then the sun came out and dried the drenched world. It worked its magic over the broken existence, casting light and making it all seem brighter and drier. More hopeful now that the storm had finally worked out it’s rage and the fire’s embers had burned away to nothing. Conversation came between the two as well. The words just seemed to make sense. It was odd how they could smile, how they could understand. They had experienced the same storm, the same earthquake. And now? Now they both knew.



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