“It’s not that, I’m, I’m not trying to be difficult,” sweat swam down his face looking at her like this for the first time. Four years ought to be enough for anyone but it wasn’t for him.
The best faces can wear a mask anytime they’d like. If skies threatened with dark clouds, the only sunshine could come from such a masked face. The best of them could do that. This, though, was not one of those faces.
She stopped him before he could go further. “You are a weak, pointless man.”
The quaternity of 365 days pulled on his shoulders by ropes attached to boulders. Here he was, in the lion’s den, at the mercy of the slaughter. Only one had survived such an onslaught, Daniel claiming that prize many moons ago.
They were unshakable. Custom made, walking hand in hand towards a horizon only they saw, listening to words only they heard, a clock that ticked just for them.
If the Ferris wheel that was turning them around and around now could talk, it’d ask where they’d been. There was a time they could walk this boardwalk with their eyes closed. Now, they struggled to even look at one another.
He’d brought her here because his mom did, or she had. The woman he’d never suspect of the same vitriol that buttoned her face now had giggled at his every word then. She reminded him of his mom, and that was a good thing. It was even better to have someone hold his tears at mom’s funeral a year after that first Ferris wheel ride.
Marty was the old man who took the Ferris wheel tickets. He knew them by their nicknames: Lilah and Gospel. She liked his hair cut low so he had called her Delilah while all he would sing to her was gospel songs. He didn’t want to sing her anything that would encourage his masculine lusts. But that wasn’t the problem.
Technically, blame could go to a couple of places. Lilah was much too young for those years in her stepbrother’s room, but nature is rarely concerned with the circumstances and explanations of life.
Her mom was wrapped up in now-bygone first nuptials, her only string of joy in a long time, with Lilah holding on for dear life at the end of it.
So, it certainly was not completely Gospel’s constant rejection of Lilah’s wanton encouragement that broke them up.
There was a brown-grassed patch near their tenement that was an unmarked football field just before it started to snow and a racing track just after it ended. It also became the scene of their first argument.
“You’re the only boy I know that sings to somebody he don’t wanna touch!” she’d said.
Gospel’s serenade was a love letter to Christ. Pastor Wells said he could sing so well that God sent the birds to listen to him and report back. Lilah though, was lost in her own string of happiness and only knew of one way to express to Gospel that he was the reason.
His rejection was uninspired but, to her, totaled treason. Although he begged forgiveness, the decision never changed. More and more, she became less interested in the gospel.
Partnerships start out sublimely enough. Yet, the promises of eternity, feelings of potential nobility all laughed now as a distant memory, claiming another victim in their killing fields.
And so here, at the same Ferris wheel that was unfamiliar with the looks on their faces, it was her turn to be stubborn.
“You are a weak, pointless man.”
His faced drooped even lower and his heart heard itself rip in two.
“All the time,” she continued, “you tried every way ‘cept the one I wanted.”
“But we promised, you promised. It was a coven-“
“I don’t wanna hear all that,” she interrupted.
The ride was coming to an end, the squeaks of its screws getting longer and slower.
Among the crowd of Ferris wheel-riders putting their feet back on the ground and looking with hungry eyes towards their next metal sideshow, a boy walked by that same couple ending their ride together and leaned into the girl whose hand rested in his.
“Think we'll end up like them?” he laughed.Lilah strode away and Gospel walked with slow aimlessness, waving a quiet flag of defeat. The girl watched Gospel, her sympathy as quiet as his waving flag, brooding over a personal anniversary.