I Always had to Smile

By
Every time the Ferris wheel made a complete revolution
I always had to smile
It was late
almost 3 AM
and I had been letting this girl continue her ride unbroken
for no reason other than the sight
of her sleeping face pressed against the glass
The fair had closed at 2
so the only company I had was the dingy creak
of the spherical machine in front of me
and the little circle of fog blown on that one window
from even peaceful breaths

I was far gone
and no one seemed to notice my halo of sweet, sweet smoke
they seemed all too glad to let me take their tickets
I didn’t count them
I just watched the Ferris wheel go roundandround
a constant spiral of red and gold peeling lead paint

She hadn’t moved once while she spun
that hair that matched the lacquer framing her face
like some pretty siren
or something Greek like that
Medusa maybe

You know
eventually the last guy from the beer garden came over
looking tired and grumpy
and told me that the fair wasn’t for showing a girlfriend a good time
and every revolution cost probably a dollar
And I smiled for two reasons
because he made it sound like I knew that pretty pretty lady
and that revolutions—like the American, Russian, French
whatever
only cost a dollar
because human life really isn’t worth that much

So I smiled that dumb smile of mine and pulled the creaky lever

when her car reached the bottom
And I slowly opened it with a deep breath
so she’d wake when she felt her headrest moving
but she didn’t and tumbled
I guess she’d just had the ride of her life
cause you know she was dead





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