The gaudily painted gondolas stopped at the Ferris wheel’s apex. From this vantage point, he could see the Fair tents and other carnival rides spreading out across the normally vacant hayfield. He rode in the only purple car, choosing it because it was her favorite color.
A tiny, blue velvet jewelry box was cradled in his hand, resting palm up in his lap. He leaned against the car’s metal railing, grateful for the cool steel against his hot cheek. Squeezing his fingers into a tight fist around the case, he shook it until the trinket inside rattled like an angry bee fighting to escape. He was alone in the car.
The night before, when the carnival lights blazed and the calliope music blared, turning the midway into a magical fairyland, he rode the Ferris wheel with his beloved. The jewelry box secreted away in his jacket pocket. He had been giddy with joyful anticipation.
She spurned his declaration of love, laughing at his passionate pleas. He was left despondent, in a fugue of rejection and despair. All hope vanished from him.
From this great height, he brooded on how easy it would be to climb from the gondola and let gravity take its course. He thought too of throwing the offending gift, putting as much distance between him and the worthless bauble as he could manage.
Leaning over the edge of the car, looking down upon the people milling around the early morning midway, he saw her. His heart thumped against his chest, his breath came in short swallows. At first he thought she was alone too, but she was soon joined by an older man, and then a woman.
All three holding hands, the trio walked through the game alley as if they didn’t have anywhere else to be.
Just as he decided to climb over the edge of the car, the wheel began its descent. The ride was nearing the end.
Disembarking the car when it stopped at the loading deck, he pocketed the jewel case, and walked as fast as he could in the opposite direction of his once-beloved and her parents.
Oh, the agony of unrequited teenage love.