narrative imaginings

(Un)happy Days

Yvonne Twining

As the sun beat down on William’s pate he maintained his interest in the small, swirling dust storms his steps made in the dirt.  Other members of the crowd passed his slumped figure without notice.  His grey T-shirt and blue dungarees were clean, as was typical since William’s stringent schedule perpetuated a solitary structure in his life.  Thursday evening was laundry night, and William’s last seven shirts, along with underclothes, bed linens, and a few pairs of pants were scoured as they had been previously in a long string of Thursday evenings.  His plain outfit, in fact, was marked only by the bit of dirt that had stuck to his sneakers while he made his way though the desiccated field of hot dust that formed the carnival grounds.

Yvonne Twining

Families wandered in every direction and William wondered where his might be.  Every time he looked up with the intention to scope the horizon for familiar faces, the burning disk met his gaze.  He could not win this battle with the low afternoon sun.  As if competing in some cosmic hand of poker, his eyes were met with its deep orange burn at every turn.  He could almost hear it taunting him: “I’ll see you, and raise you,” in a bet that always proved far too rich for his small fleshy hand.

Suddenly he heard “William” shouted from his left, and he turned to seek the location of his brother’s voice.  His eyes squinted past the Ferris wheel, darted though the line of faces, and flitted across groups of unknown bodies.  Just as his feeling of being in a cage full of colorful, exotic birds endowed with sharp beaks that continually issued forth ear-piercing squawks was about to overwhelm his senses, William spied an eight-year old boy pointing at him.  Tucker, his brother’s young son, had a large grin on his open, mirthful face; he shouted something and William’s brother turned from the small yellow ticket booth to look at him.  Apparently they had all noticed William standing silently in the center of the patch of dirt, slouching desolately and peering around through a pinched-up, downturned face long before he caught sight of them.

Instantly William directed his navigation toward the ticket booth where his brother’s family was lined up purchasing a coil of faded blue paper tickets that would provide Tucker and his small sister an entire afternoon worth of rides on various amusements at the park.  William was making a b-line to the booth, his eyes still squinting downward, when a strong force knocked him off his feet.  Pain and shock consumed his entire right side and William became vaguely aware of bellowing voices filtering through the mist of dust his fall had caused.  For a moment as he lied on the ground and looked up he could see sparkles as some of the dust was caught by rays of the sun, shining for brief seconds before swirling and falling through the haze of powdered earth.

Scuffling footsteps and grinding dirt pierced his left ear, and William turned stiffly away from the noise–a delayed instinct that would’ve been useful 45 seconds before.  As if sliding into home base, Tucker rushed up to the prone body of his uncle lying in the center of the carnival grounds.

“Uncle Will!  Oh my god!  Are you OK?  Are you OK?”

Tucker put his hands on William’s left arm and pressed down heavily, as if to assure himself of the continued presence of his uncle’s life in solid form.  As William strained to lift his head and shoulders off the ground he caught sight of a wheel jutting up towards the sky at an awkward angle that penetrated his view slightly to the right of his feet.  There was a squirming in the dirt near the wheel, and long metal pole that seemed to hold up the slowly spinning wheel like a flag rippling in a quiet breeze at the end of a tall flagpole, and William noticed a figure clad in shiny red, puffy pants lying in the dirt next to it.

“Oh my god!” Tucker was wild-eyed and breathing heavy with excitement and concern.

“You got taken out by that clown!  You turned around right in front him riding that unicycle and POW!”

Painfully grunting to his feet, William kept his eyes on the clown, who was still on his back—arms curled up across his chest, eyes closed, and legs tangled in the seat and bar of his vehicle.  He took a couple of steps and stopped at the long pole of the unicycle that created a barricade to the colorful figure.  As he looked down at the broken clown lying in the dirt he could not imagine how this day could’ve turned out any differently.

© FMR 9/22/10


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This entry was posted on September 22, 2010 by in short fiction and tagged , , , , , .
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