ferris wheel heart
by kia heryadi

I met her at the carnival last week. The days keep going by and my memories are getting cloudy, slurred, slushed together like that snow cone I had, or maybe it was soft serve or lemonade, something sweet for sure. I remember it being cold, sticky on my lips. Or maybe the sticky sweetness was from her kiss. I know that was real. I remember her kiss and the tackiness of her lip gloss. I remember her kiss and it was the first real thing I’d felt in months. Her lips made me feel like I was twelve again, the taste of Lip Smackers or maybe Maybelline, when we used to buy those little tubes, vaguely pink and smelling of cherries. 

 

Some girls used to steal lip gloss. I never could. I sweat when I’m nervous anyway. 

But I remember her lip gloss. She must’ve put it on later in the night because it still felt fresh, or maybe she’s just magic. Maybe lip gloss clings to her lips for days, like I would to her, if she would let me, I guess. No one ever wears lip gloss anymore. I don’t, at least. I like to wear lipstick now: the bullet shape in my jean pocket, plastic black and rimmed with gold. I told my friend that, told her, lipstick makes me feel grown up. She laughed when I said that. “You’re not as young as you think.” 

The road goes on. I’m in the car, legs folded in the backseat. I want to write about her but I don’t know how. I want to write to her, really, but I can’t. I know she was real, I know I kissed her, but I know nothing beyond that. Why didn’t she tell me her name? We kissed, she went off in the crowd; I called after her, but she didn’t give me a second look. I know she heard me; she must have heard me. How can you kiss someone and just leave? 

I went back to the carnival the night after she kissed me. I thought maybe I’d see her again. I wanted to see her again before I left town forever, crammed in the backseat of my mom’s car. That second night I wandered the fairgrounds, my eyes darting around for a glimpse of her hair. That’s what I remember best other than her sticky lips: her curls in my fingers as we kissed on the Ferris wheel. She wore barrettes too, palest pink, right above her ears. 

You know how this story ends. She wasn’t anywhere to be found. I ended up in the periphery of the carnival, in the darkest parts of the fairgrounds without any rides or games or food stalls: desperate to find her, find out her name, hold her in my arms, kiss her again. Well, she wasn’t there. On the periphery, it smelled like horse shit. 

I still feel very young. I know she’d understand. Who else would go to the carnival alone anyway? My heart aches with want; I want to kiss her silly until her lip gloss and my lipstick become one, a haze of sticky pink and cherry red. I don’t want her to just be my Ferris wheel girl. 

I reach into my bag, dig my fingers around for my teddy bear. I rub my fingers against its fur. I’ve had it since I was a kid. 

I don’t ever want to leave. 

I look behind me and watch as the highway signs turn into dots on the horizon. My throat shrinks. Van Morrison plays on the radio, “I will never grow so old again.” I close my eyes, but the sun won’t let me sleep. This is the rest of everything, I guess. Welcome to it all.