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There something special about the entrance to an amusement park. A line drawn between reality and fun. On this side the apathy of our everyday lives and on the other anything we might dare to dream. It's no wonder he ran back inside. I wouldn't want to leave either. This is James’ favourite place.
Treachery hides in thoughts. Treachery lashes like a whip and scars our insides. The first time I saw James my thoughts betrayed me. I looked down at this wrinkles, red bawling thing and thought, “this is it”. We build our world on expectations. The world I built for James was no different. He was so real and so there, and so far from my expectations. I shattered as they fell in pieces. That on treacherous thought became a new foundation. All of the love we shared all the warmth and goodness that followed built on a traitorous thought.
People come into your life for a reason. At least that's what dad use to say before mom left, after that he mostly drank. Things were different for Jacob and I. When we met at Charlie's diner I was sweeping the floor. He came in with some workers but he didn't try to flirt or cop a feel like the others. But, he just sat down, ordered a coffee, and watched me. When my shift was over he offers to drive me home. I don't know how to describe that ride. It was like a fairytale. We talked, we laughed, and eventually we kissed. I can't tell you if James was made that night or one of the many that followed. But I think it had to of been that night. That one perfect night.
We moved in together but he well… he died. According to the safety advisor his harness failed while he was working on top of the Ferris wheel. He wa there one moment and gone the next. Sometimes people leave your life for no reason. I was three months pregnant with James. A fairytale f***ing over.
It's on record that i'm a failure as a mother. Once when James was very small I left him asleep in a car while i ran an errand. I don't even remember what it was. When i came back, the Sheriff was standing next to my car, watching my boy through the window. I didn't like what i saw in his eyes… Judgement. He wrote me a ticket without even saying a word. Just the scratching of his pen of the notepad. When he gave it to me our eyes met. He told me “I know what you're going through… My daughter Helen she… Just get some help.” Help was a bolt of lightning. Help was a thousand volts surging through my veins. Help was agony.
“I'd rather die!” I wanted to scream. “ I’d rather you pulled your gun and shot me.” But instead my mouth said, “Yes Sheriff.”
After they let me out and gave me James back, they sent me home with a handful of breadcrumbs. Home bittersweet home. I barely recognized it. Where there had been colour and light, there were shadows and regrets. Where there had been warmth, there was a bone deep coldness that never went away. I tried my hardest to keep the ghosts at bay. Jacob watching from the dusty corners while i tried to teach his son how to read. My Father, coldly assessing me and finding me lacking.
James has bruises on his arms, finger marks. Someone has been hurting him. I’ve asked him, demanded really, to know where he got the marks. But he doesn't want to answer. Something has scared him into silence. He doesn't dare talk. He’s been changing too. Something sinister lurks behind his eyes. I catch him staring at me at odd moments. At night he tosses and turns, cries out words that i cannot understand. When i try to soothe him, he snaps and bites at my fingers. I think he wants to talk to me. I think he wants to tell me. But they are watching him every minute of everyday. They are whispering to him in his sleep, changing him. They are taking my baby away from me. I can save him. There will be pain. But i love him and in the end he will understand why.
The park is a collage of contradictions, all of it's own. Millions of people die in car crashes every year, and the park has little cars that simulate that action. Hear the kids scream for joy. In the sideshow alley you can walk away with 15 cents worth of a mass produced chinese teddy bear while a grinning Carnie pockets you hard earned 5 dollars. I think James i waiting for me inside. Lost for reasons only he could know. “Don't worry Lauren, people lose things all the time. Take a deep breathe and try to remember that last time you James.”
I devoted myself to James and did the things they told me. It will get better they said. Everyday will be a little better than the last. I am i the woods lost and afraid. Things never got better. Only worse.
I look down at a tombstone unmoved by the names, Father, Husband, and Son. So I went to the Amusement Park to remember it all. And so I did.