One Night at the Carnival

It happened over cup of coffee. Often the images came back to fluttering back to her through her untrained subconscious. Only in dreams, but that morning as Hera sat in her usual spot in the coffee shot which she frequented every morning at 11 the entire episode cracked forcibly back in to her mind like a bolt of lightning.

It was late. The carnival appeared as a swirling vortex of darting stars against the black curtain of the night sky. The squeals and shrieks subsided as one by one the lights glowing from the rides fell still and were slowly extinguished. The last of the revellers traipsed in pairs with clasped or in groups with their arms linked towards the exit. The rest of the carnies set about tending their rides or clearing their stalls. Hera was the only lone figure who trudged wearily through afterglow of amusement and delight. Although barely yet 19, she was by no means a small girl. She towered above even most of the men at almost 6ft5 and every inch of her carried a substantial roll of weight. In any other setting this may have made her undesirable but beneath the lights of the carnival it made her a statuesque figure of indignation and intrigue. The Gnasher had told her many times that she’d make a wonderful sideshow act if only she were willing to take up a gimmick. Strongwoman, he’d said or perhaps she could take up belly dancing? But Hera had always been most content operating the Waltzers. It was the legacy that had been left to her by her father and no one could spin the cars quite the way that Hera did. Sure, any carnie could make the kids squeal but hitting the buttons but for Hera it was an art. The turning of each car was like the sultry sway of a tarantella. She could make that ride bend beneath the elegant touch of her fingers. She had been doing the last few rounds of the evening when the pain started. The pain that flew through her stomach and down her legs like the tigers swiping restlessly through the bars of their cage at feeding time. She had reluctantly handed over her controls to one of the dull seasonal carnies and had crawled towards the refuge of her trailer. However she did not make it that far. Less than halfway to her haven Hera found herself crouched behind the throbbing generator to the Ghost Train. Doubled over with the pain Hera opened and closed her mouth as if to scream but only the hoarse squeak of a tearful “Help” escaped her raw throat. Hera could not recall if she tried exactly she lay on her back behind that generator with her nails digging in to the late summers dust. She drew her knees to her chest and before she could even fathom the pain she had drawn the accidental thing from between her legs. But it was barely whole, just sot and pink and limp. So she released it from her awed clutch and let it roll from her. She laid her exhausted head back against the cool rusting metal of the generator, like her eyes roll back in their sockets and wept bitter, silent tears.

What were your prompts?: funfair, accident, flashback

by Hayley Rutherford


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