Each week we feature a story written by one or two of our group members at one of our meetings. For this week's featured stories, the group discussed the idea of writing without the use of overly-verbose or advanced words, and was given the prompt: In simple words, tell a personal story we can all relate to at a carnival or amusement park. We had 20 minutes to write.
By Erik Day
Everybody was taller, except me. My eyes were higher than belly buttons, not as high as boobs. That put me at eight or nine. No school, and it was dark out, so I was out late. It wasn't far from home, my mom wasn't around. Probably at work and the sitter next door didn't care how far I roamed, as long as I was on foot and checked in now and then, like… once a month would've been good. I'd checked in, though, if only to bum five bucks from the sitter. That was probably her hourly, back in the day, but she didn't mind because I'd be elsewhere. That night, hot and muggy, the carnival lights were across the creek, over the field and in the parking lot of the Jewel-Osco shopping strip half a mile away. So that’s where I went. The carnival was in town and I'd gotten there late, being too shy to ask for the fiver until I couldn't stand it anymore. It felt like I'd gotten a million tickets. For a moment, I was a spaceman, riding the cyclone and crawling as high as I could while the g-force pushed everybody back. Then I soloed the tilt-a-whirl until it spun so fast I was nearly sick. Then I was the fighter pilot, riding the zipper. Still wasn't sick, but probably because I hadn't eaten dinner. Which was okay. There was always food. Rides didn't happen every day. I heard words over the PA, the only ones I got were "closing time." Beyond, I couldn't understand a word they said. The crowd was getting sparse, but I was still there. I remember one guy asked: "Hey, kid, where's your parents?" I shrugged. "I dunno." I had two tickets left, and three minutes to feel anything but being who I was, where I was, when I was. I got another ride on the tilt-a-whirl, and as I got off, the carnival lights all shut off. I stood there and cried a little bit. Some lady came over, tattoos up her arms. "Are you lost?" I shook my head and held up the last ticket. "I didn't get a chance to use all my tickets." "Sorry, kid."