Ferris Wheel Reflections

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“Ferris wheel?” I asked, looking around at my companions.

“Sure,” Billy replied with a shrug.

“Carson… do we have to?” Stef asked her not-boyfriend. Stef and Carson have been not-dating for almost a year now. There is a subtle difference between not being in a relationship and not-dating. For starters, she always referred to him as her boyfriend, and he had just stopped correcting her at some point; resigning to just rolling his eyes whenever she introduced him as such.

“Totally! It would be QUITE un-metal of us not to ride the Ferris wheel!” To Carson, his level of metal was all that really mattered. Actually, it was probably somewhere between “being metal” (something that is unsurprisingly difficult for the Oratory sophomore with a prep-haircut and a name like Carson) and messing with Stef’s head.

“Katie, you game?” I asked, putting my arm on her shoulder.

Katie nodded in response. In the six years I’d known her, she was never much of a talker. Katie and I gave Billy some money, and he and Carson got in line to get tickets. We rushed in line for the Ferris wheel. I hadn’t been on one in years, and was actually a little nervous as we crowded into the little yellow cart.

The ride attendant gave us a dirty look. “You can’t bring that stuff on.” Over the roar of the carnival around us: rides, music, vendors shouting, buzzers going off at games, and the aimless chatter of hundreds of people, we needed him to repeat himself three times. Then we relinquished our precious cotton candy to him. I glared at him, plotting to bring him physical harm if our four-dollars-a-bag cotton candy was stepped on or stolen.

We started to move and without missing a beat, Stef started to panic. “We’re going to die!” She clutched the center bar, which kept the cart as one piece.

“We’re not going to die.” I told her, a half-hearted attempt at reassurance. I was on the verge of panic myself. The clanks and creaks that the ride was making were enough to send chills down my spine.

“I don’t know guys, are rides supposed to make these-”

“Carson, shut up,”

“I’m just sayin’-”

“Carson. Stop. Now.”

“But these noises!”

“Yes! The Ferris wheel is making noises! Mechanical things do that!”

“Not like this!” I was ready to hit him, Stef was crying, Katie was snickering at the frantic argument between me and Carson. I had met Carson once before, before he had met Stef, and I had relatively mixed feelings about him. Not that an undying, passionate love between us would stop me from beating him senseless when we got off the ride. If we survived to get off the ride, that is. I had already imagined about twelve different ways we would meet our fiery, Ferris wheel demise. The air would be filled with the smell of popcorn, hamburgers, and twisted, burning wreck.

“We’re at the top,” Billy told us, finally. It seemed like years since we had gotten on, when in reality, it was probably only about five minutes ago. Stef and I were broken from our frenzy to stare in awe at how small the people seemed around us, the lights from the road, and the start of golden fireworks. It was beautiful and I smiled, ready to stay up there forever.

“Oh no,” I looked at Stef, “You’re absolutely going to hate me for telling you this but,” I grabbed her arm, in some sort of hope that it would make the rest of what I was about to tell her less intimidating, “we’re going down backwards.” We dutifully resumed our previously panicked states. Stef started crying, and my body was trembling.

Carson grabbed the sides of Stef’s face. “Stef, look at me.” She continued to sob and I put my hand on her back. “Look at me,” he told her again. “We’re okay. It’s going to be okay. Okay?” He then looked at me, “It is time to sing.”

“What are you talking about? Now is not a time for song!” I told him, thinking he would break out into some Slayer song, to match his t-shirt. A song that would doubtlessly be filled with death and pain, sung solely to make Stef and I worse. I was surprised when he started.

“Why do you fill me up, fill me up buttercup baby just to let me down,” he started, loud, and off-key.
“Let me down!” Billy continued “And mess me around, yeah!”

“And worst of all,” I laughed, “Worst of all you never call baby when you say you will.”

“Say you will, but I need you still!” Carson rocked himself back and forth, still holding onto the sides of Stef’s head. She was still crying, but probably because she was laughing so hard.

The five of us finished off the chorus loudly “I need you! I need you, more than anyone darling. More than I have from the start!” Stef was fine now. I was fine now. I put an arm around Stef and an arm around Katie.

“If this is any indication,” I told them and the boys, “any indication whatsoever of how this summer will be, let the games begin!” We laughed more. It was a real laugh, one I probably hadn’t been able to share with friends in years.

I took a minute while we had finally settled down, and were waiting to get to the bottom to be let out of our little yellow deathtrap to reflect on the night.

Who were these people to me anyway? Stef and I were fair-weathered friends, arguing with each other more often than not. Billy and I didn’t really talk all that much, I had really only started hanging out with him a few months ago. I had only met Carson once before. Katie and I had been best friends, but stopped talking for two years over stupid teenage drama.

That night though, we weren’t just at the top of a Ferris wheel. We were on top of the world. We landed on solid ground, and I linked arms with Billy and Katie. Stef took Katie’s other arm and Carson’s with her other one, and we skipped. Back to Stef’s car, singing the chorus of “Build Me Up Buttercup” at the tops of our lungs.





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