Thursday, December 12, 2013

on the last hot day we piled into tamara’s jeep and drove down south to the carnival. a massive ferris wheel growing larger and larger as we neared the parking lot. i sat in the back seat next to L and S. our elbows knocking.  a bottle of rum sweating between L’s legs. she took a sip, tossed in a few salted peanuts, then passed it to S. the plastic rim smeared with two different shades of lipstick. i smelled my hair, which smelled like their perfume. 

a moonless night. we snuck in, climbing through a hole in the chain link fence. outside the funhouse, tamara said catch me if you can. this was no ordinary maze but a labyrinth of mirrors, darkened corners, secret passageways, and trap doors.  L and S trailed after her while i waited by the front flap watching two kids score big at skeeball. both former lovers of tamara, L and S saw no humor in their getting lost, neither finding her. tamara emerged laughing, head titled back. her tight denim jacket made crunching sounds when she walked. in the fortune tellers tent, i sat on an elaborately embroidered silk cushion. the room lined with velvet tapestries, hazy from half-burnt champaka.  she read the stars, not crystal balls: as an aquarius you must do what you need instead of focusing on others.  i had hoped for more exotic advice, but nodded my head yes.

standing in a grassless patch of dirt, tamara threw a softball over and over, hitting bullseye every time, sending the clown sitting atop plunging into his tank. she laughed too loud. her glee at winning embarrassing everyone but her.  we walked on, past carts of cotton candy and teenagers kissing in between sips of cherry slurpees; past a man on a motorcycle riding round a metal cage shaped like a giant egg. the heady smell of his exhaust hung in the air. i breathed deep. tamara walked next to me, her arms swinging loosely beside her body. relaxed. it was not always so easy to feel so good. L handed me a bag of tortilla chips crusted with cinnamon and sugar. her fingers sticky on my wrist: look. amateur fireworks, shot up from the sand, shuddering above the ferris wheel, reflected back by the water. purple light falling over us all. i wanted to take a picture but instead just looked. 

for once i fell asleep within minutes of shutting my bedroom door.