The Amber Glow of a Ferris Wheel
The beach was different at night. Umbrellas didn’t clutter the shoreline,
boom boxes didn’t drown the sounds of children’s laughter, and the BBQ aroma
of chicken and beef didn’t linger in the stratosphere with the fumes from empty
suntan lotion spray bottles. The pollution left behind during the day was taken
away by the shadows creeping over the empty docks, the cool crisp ocean winds
sweeping through the sand dunes, and the crabs and seagulls scavenging the
beach for a midnight snack. I could taste the ocean’s saltwater mist as the
moon’s reflection rippled with each crashing wave against the shore, while the
moon bathed the beach in its intoxicating pale white light. The darkness was
beautiful. It was pure. And as the beach slept, rejuvenating itself with the silver
crescent and stars shining overhead, the boardwalk awakened.
We reached the top of the Ferris wheel when it stopped. He moved in,
closer. His arm wrapped around my shoulder. I held my breath, letting the
wafting smell of funnel cake fill my lungs. I turned my head, first watching the
seagulls circle overhead, and then I gazed at a group of dolphins playing in the
dark depthless waters along the black crystal horizon.
“What? Do you see a mermaid?” he said.
“No,” I said. I gulped, feeling his smooth arm stretch around my waist.
“Sorry. I was distracted. Do you ever get sad when you realize that a moment,
like this one, has to end?”
“It never has to,” he said. His fingers touched my chin, tilting my face
towards his lips. We kissed.
“What’s wrong?” he said. I looked at the blinking lights from the rides on
the boardwalk beneath us, allowing the splendor of the summer night take
control. I looked back into his brown caramel eyes and melted.
“I never kissed anyone before,” I said. It’s sad and pathetic for a
seventeen year old like me to say aloud – worse – to admit it to the person who
planted his lips on my own.
He chuckled. The ride took off full circle again and when we got off he
held my hand. My eardrums popped like the balloons from the water gun game,
my lips moistened from the sweet toxic smell of cotton candy, and the joyous
symphonic melody of carousel music echoed in my chest, causing my heart to
flutter, skipping a beat, when he told me I love you.
“You don’t even know me.”
“What’s there to know? You like fried Oreos, pizza and ice cream,” he
I paused, allowing the laughter from a tilt-a-whirl ride and the screaming
from a roller coaster to filter through the cool heat between us. I realized more
than the blinking carnival lights, buzzing sound of pinball machines, the taste of
salt water taffy, and even tonight’s kiss that the boardwalk carried with it the
miracle of youth, love, fun, and what it meant to be alive. Every simple pleasure
of the summer night, of this life, came from the amber glow the boardwalk had
given me. I couldn’t help but smile.
We walked along the wooden boardwalk planks, past the beach towards
my parent’s beach house. My heart raced as I stood on the threshold. I peered
inside the glass screen door, seeing that the front door was unlocked and a
single light was left on in the bathroom. I sighed. Everyone was asleep. I tried
to speak when he hushed my lips with his index finger, kissed my hand with his
sweet candy apple lips and then left.
For the first man, other than my father, who ever told me that he loved me,
I never saw him again.