They never saw it coming, the happy people at the fair
I was so small. Barely six years old and alone because my Daddy had to go and help his friend with a flat tyre. I cried because the clown hadn’t made my balloon giraffe yet and my Daddy said that I could stay if I didn’t move from the ferris wheel. He kissed me on the cheek. He kissed me and he told me to be good until he got back.
He told me to be good.
I remember the clown had springy red hair. It kept bouncing even after he stopped moving. I remember how the clown moved his arms in a twisting dance that resulted in a small orange giraffe for me. I giggled as I put in on my head and pretended it was a hat. I giggled and I skipped as I took my new toy on its first adventures. I giggled until suddenly the dirty man grabbed my giraffe from behind me and held it up to his hardened, stubbly face.
I had seen men like him before. In the park, huddled around burning rubbish bins. He was one of the men my Daddy called homeless. My Daddy had told me to stay away from homeless people, but, as the dirty man held up my giraffe, I struggled to remember. I reached out outraged as the orange rubber became all that I saw and desired.
He held it higher. He stepped backwards away from me. He held out his hand and beckoned for me to follow him. A part of me knew that my Daddy wouldn’t like that. A part of me knew I should stay where I was. A stronger part of me cared for nothing but that balloon.
The dirty man turned and walked away with my giraffe. I followed, tentatively at first. He would turn every few steps and beckon and I would gain a little trust. Soon, following the dirty man felt like a game and I knew that the prize at the end would be my glorious giraffe. As we slipped out of the crowd I was no longer thinking about my Daddy at all.
The dirty man led me to a part of the park that wasn’t enhanced with rides, fairy floss and laughing weekenders. A place where the trees grew tall and walking paths wound. There was a large rock at the foot of the path into the dark trees and I stopped there, my fear catching up with me. I threw an uncertain glance back towards the bright sparkling of the fair. I remembered my Daddy and that he would not like this.
The dirty man beckoned and I shook my head. I held out my hand. I had gone as far as I would. I was not supposed to follow people who were homeless. I held out my hand for my giraffe. I held out my hand because I had come this far and the clown had made that giraffe for me and I wanted to show it to my Daddy and the dirty man was not keeping it.
He scowled at my defiance. He scowled and I remember his face looked black under his scraggly, unwashed hair. He stared down my childish rebellion as his cracked lips widened into a hideous grimace.
I stood still.
Suddenly a creaking sound pierced the air. Louder than thunder and sharper than a fierce blow to the head. Terrified by the sound I ran from it and crashed into the dirty man. I saw black all around me. I smelt danger, I smelt death. I felt his hands closing down over my shoulders and the terror of it launched my little legs back into action. I threw myself away from him and with my giraffe forgotten there were no restraints to keep me from running. I ran. I ran toward the fair and away from the dirty man.
I ran so fast that it took some time for me to notice that the fair had changed. The happy people weren’t happy anymore. Their faces were stricken with horror.
I didn’t know what was going on. All I knew was that I hadn’t obeyed my Daddy and now something awful had happened. I needed my Daddy to make it stop. I ran as fast as I could. I had to be where my Daddy left me. I had to be good.
I could not find the ferris wheel. I could not find it because it was no longer there. Bowed metal stood in front of me where it should be. Just a twisted foundation and people around it who were hurt and crying. People crying everywhere. The wheel was gone.
I could see where it went. The stalls were crushed. Everywhere, the people were crying.
I had to follow. My Daddy told me to wait with the ferris wheel, but it was gone. I was so young. I had to follow the wheel, I had to be where my Daddy could find me and protect me from the dirty man. I ran through the destruction. I saw carriages that had come off the wheel. I saw someone with a piece of metal sticking out of his neck. He wasn’t moving. I knew I was seeing someone who was dead. I kept running.
Finally, I saw it. The wheel had toppled and now lay flat. Flat and dead on the carpark. The carpark where my Daddy had gone.
I never got there. There were men and they stopped me and picked me up and held me as the tears streamed down my face and I fought futilely to get out of their grasp. I never saw my Daddy again.
I am so sorry Daddy.
They never saw it coming, the happy people at the fair.
I should have listened.
I should have been good.
Written for the Short Story comp in response to the pic “Hail, Fellow”