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They Never Saw It Coming

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.

He beckoned.

I stood still.

He beckoned.

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.

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They Never Saw It Coming by 

Written for the Short Story comp in response to the pic “Hail, Fellow”


  • Ushna Sardar
    Ushna Sardarover 6 years ago

    its awesome Rella! like it!

  • Thank you xx

    – Rella

  • Solar Zorra
    Solar Zorraover 6 years ago

    Oh Rella, that was such a realistic trip. Good job, i felt like i was there in the dark with the little girl. How scarey and sad….that was certainly an emotional ride.

  • Thank you! It definitely headed in a pretty dark direction once I started….

    – Rella

  • Roger Sampson
    Roger Sampsonover 6 years ago

    My goodness my friend – - this totally captivated me from beginning to end. This story has a bit of everything in it…loss, guilt, defiance, evil. Seriously, one of the best writings I have read from you. If your goal was to keep someones attention, hanging on every word….you achieved it. Just SUPER.


  • Oh thank you so much, your comment just made my day!!!

    – Rella

  • Hilary Robertshaw
    Hilary Robertshawover 6 years ago

    Hi Rella

    This is very well written. It really gives the feeling of a child in turmoil, isolation, fear, loss. But I think perhaps it’s one step too far. The desertion, the dirty man leading the child away and the mass destruction on the ferris wheel, just stretches credibility a bit too far for me. I feel that it’s the dirty man that you ought to lose. Have more of the joy of the fair, candy floss and stalls and dodgems, then your punchline would have more impact.

    Just my humble opinion of course


  • Hi Hilary,

    Thanks so much for your comments and suggestion. When I was writing I was trying to create a child’s nightmare in a way that an adult could remember feeling – kind of an exaggerated reality. I get what you mean though, creating a more fanciful scene would have more impact when it shattered. I get a lot of amusement parks in my head….might have to mess with one of those in this way!

    – Rella

  • Miri
    Miriover 6 years ago

    Rella – this is great, really drew me in & so understand that child’s guilt!

  • Thanks Miri! I love trying to look at things with a child’s perspective…this time I just picked that huge fear that one’s disobedience would bring dire consequences and let the poor kid have it….ah the power of authoring!

    – Rella

  • kathibook
    kathibookover 6 years ago

    Nice work Rella!! Congrats!

  • Thank you xxxx

    – Rella

  • Zolton
    Zoltonover 6 years ago

    This does draw you in. Did the dirty man infact save her from peril? I sympathized with her not wanting to give up what was hers.

  • That was one thing I was trying to kinda weave in there….sometimes things are bad but they could always be worse. Whilst it’s not nice to be nearly abducted, it would be even worse to be squashed by a ferris wheel!
    Thanks for reading :)

    – Rella

  • Empress
    Empressover 6 years ago

    Ooooh, sort of reading this with one eye shut because ouch … and now i need to read again.

  • He he he he….I was a big meanie bully author :)

    – Rella

  • Karirose
    Kariroseover 6 years ago

    How beautifully written this is. The child’s point of view is done extremely well. The sense of guilt is so true to form for a child. Made me want to cry.

  • Thanks so much! Yours is a huge compliment as that perspective is exactly what I was going for xx

    – Rella

  • Damian
    Damianover 6 years ago

    That was well done Rella, enjoyed this journey. Did the homeless man have prior knowledge and was trying to save her, or her was just the beginning of a very bad day? Great.

  • Thanks! I don’t think I ever considered him having prior knowledge…hmm, perhaps he sabotaged the wheel! When writing I was just going for a really, really bad day :)

    – Rella

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