The Big Kid Ride
The sun high above their heads, Amy and her mother stood side
by side, holding hands as they walked across the parking lot of
the local carnival. They reached the gate and paid the admission.
The sights and sounds of the carnival filled their eyes and ears
as they approached. You could see some of the rides from where
they were standing! The tops of roller coasters zoomed and
giant wheels spun! Amy was so exited; she had never been to the
carnival before. She wished her dad could have come but he had to
work and wouldn't be home until late.
Amy let go of her mothers hand and ran forward
several feet, "Look mommy, a giant wheel!"
"Yes sweetie it's called a fairs wheel… don't drag your teddy
on the ground like that, he'll get all dirty, do you want me to
carry it for you?"
"No!" She yelled and came back to her mother side, "We have to
go get stamped first through, come on."
They came to a stop in front of a purple booth with a yellow
smile on it. "Here it is." They stood in wait in the hot
noon sun for a few minutes before Amy started to
complain about the heat.
"Only a little longer," Her mother would reply patiently, "How
much longer?" she'd question, "a little."
When they finally reached the front of the line, an old lady
greeted them from behind the glass window. "Hello! Right hand
Amy placed her hand through the little slit in the window and
the lady stamped her hand, when she looked down at it a red-print
monkey was smiling back at her. As her mother placed her hand
under the glass Amy saw a giant fairs wheel with spinning cages
that contained the seats with a large sign that read "The Star".
"Mommy, I want to ride that ride!"
"That's a big kid ride sweetie, I'll have to ride it with you,
so maybe later, but for, now let's go ride the little kid
Amy followed her mother reluctantly, walking towards a small
roller coaster she pointed and said," I want to ride this."
"Alright then come on." There was a small line in front but
when the ride came to a stop they were next to get on. They
boarded a small car in the middle and fastened in. The ride
started up Amy began to get nervous. She felt a slight fluttering
sensation in her stomach as the cars began to climb slowly up the
first small hill. The climb seemed to drag on forever in Amy's
mind and the feeling in her stomach began to intensify as they
started to reach the top of the hill, even as the ride stopped at
the top of the hill the feeling increased. Amy saw something out
of the corner of her eye.
She looked up and the butterflies immediately vanished when
she saw the large flashing neon sign that read "The Star".
"Mommy, when we get off this ride can we ride "The Star"?"
"We'll see." She said, but Amy new that meant no. She was
about to start begging her mother but the ride began to go down
the hill and Amy started to scream as the coaster did sharp turns
and twists, forgetting all about their previous conversation for
the moment. The ride stopped and Amy got off, feeling more than a
little dizzy, but already pestering her mother about the next
ride. Amy's mother just shook her head and began to walk away,
taking her daughters hand as she continued to beseech.
"Please mom?" asked Amy.
"Not yet…" She trailed off and began to walk in the direction
of her friend,
"After I have a word with my friend we can go ride that thing
you've been talking about." Amy sighed and followed her mother
knowing that it more than likely wouldn't happen. As they spoke
Amy decide she didn't want to wait any longer. When her mother
and her friend began to walk Amy staid behind and started to walk
in the direction she thought the ride was in. Amy's mother turned
around to tell her anxious daughter that they could go ride the
ride now, but when she looked Amy wasn't there! She shouted
frantically for her daughter but started to walk in the direction
of the information booth when she didn't get any response but a
few curious glances from some bystanders and a few odd looks from
some unconcerned carnies.
Amy walked past the games to were she thought she had seen the
ride, but when she looked around, it was nowhere in sight.
Panicked, she began to quicken her pace. As it dawned on her that
she was lost her heart started to pound, so loud that the
surrounding sounds were almost completely inaudible. Amy turned,
thinking she had hear her mother calling her, but not completely
trusting her senses she ignored it and walked in the opposite
direction. Amy came to a stop in front of a large red and yellow
tent, sitting down in front of it, large tears began to roll down
her face. A friendly but concerned voice came from beside her,
"Are you alright little girl?" It asked. Peeking through her
fingers Amy saw a pair of brightly colored large shoes.
"A clown?" She asked, standing up now.
"Yes, and it looks like your lost, right?" Amy nodded.
"I was going to ride the big kid ride but I lost my mommy."
She explained. After introducing herself Amy asked the clown if
he would help her find her mother.
"Well," He said, taking a deep breath as though about to go
into deep thought, "I can't help you, but I'll take you to my
friend Zahra and she should be able to, okay?" Amy nodded and
followed the clown, who later said his name was Charlie, into the
tent. They came to a stop in front of a woman in baggy clown
clothes, when she spoke zeal and kindness radiated off of her,
but with one glace at Amy and Charlie's somber expression her
joyous demeanor quickly turned to concern. "Hello there, who's
this you've got with you Charlie?" As Charlie explained her
situation Amy was looking at Zahra, from head to toe. She had red
hair that stood straight up, and Amy didn't think it was a wig.
Zahra noticed her staring and explained that it was just for
show, she didn't really wear it like this in public. Zahra agreed
to take Amy to her mother and off they went.
Walking with Zahra Amy started to wonder if her mother had
notice she was gone yet. Amy looked up at her escort skeptically
and wondered if trusting this stranger was such a good idea, so
to feel more at ease she began to question her. "Why do you work
here?" She wanted to know; certainly it wasn't the only thing she
was capable of.
"Because it's fun."
"Why do you wear your hair like that?"
"Because people think it's funny and my job is to make
people laugh." And on they went, back and forth like that for a
while until they came to a stop in front of a dark tent with a
sign in front of it that said "Freak Show". "Now let me ask
you a question," Said Zahra, looking so intently into
Amy's eyes she felt an overwhelming urge to look away," why did
you run away? Don't you think your mother's worried? You should
think about that before you do something like so drastic."
Amy's lip began to tremble and tears began to fill her eyes,"
I just wanted to ride the big kid ride!"
Sighing Zahra took her hand and, casting a quick glance at the
"Freak Show" sign and back to Amy she asked," Do you want to go
"Okay." She sniffed and then quickly scurried off after Zahra.
It was dark in there with just a few small green lights
illuminating the many exotic exhibits. To the right was a two
headed stuffed pig, who Amy assumed at one time must have been
alive. She fidgeted as it seemed that it was staring at her with
its unblinking eyes that appeared to follow you like a pictures
They walked quickly past it and stopped in front of two men
connected at the head. Staring wide eyed Amy exclaimed in a
breathy, awe filled voice," Their stuck together! Their twins!
The twins in my class don't look like this though!"
Grabbing her hand Zahra pulled her away from the men," You can't
just say something like that, you could have hurt his-their
feelings, go apologize. Looking up at Zahra in surprise by the
sudden change of tone she stood there in stunned silence.
"But…" she began, but was cut off by Zahra's stern look.
Sighing she turned to do what she had been instructed to do, but
when she looked they were already gone.
Forgetting about the men for a moment she turned
to the next exhibit, a small grey kitten. She stared at its
frozen body, confused for a minute not understand what was wrong
with it. Realizing they may have to look at it from an angle to
see what was wrong Zahra told Amy to go to the other side of it.
Amy began to move around it, and there it was, plain as day! A
fifth leg was sticking out of the kittens back, right next to its
tail! Still staring she pointed and whispered," Look." Zahra just
nodded and started to walk towards the exit mumbling something
about taking her to her mother now. Amy followed her out of the
tent and into the bright daylight.
As they walked away Amy started to worry about how angry her
mother must be at her. She remembered her mother's fury the last
time she had done something like this. She was beginning to wish
she had just waited. Seeing the nervous expression Amy had been
carrying for the last few minutes Zahra asked her what was wrong.
With a nervous glace from side to side as though to make sure no
one was to hear, even though they were surrounded by people, she
explained in a quite voice," I'm afraid mama will be mad at
Looking into Amy's glistening eyes that seemed to be sparkling
like the ocean at sunset as tears began to fill her eyes yet
again. Zahra gave a reassuring smile and said," I'm sure she's
more worried than angry." But Amy didn't seem to be listening and
she began to sob. Zahra sighed and continued walking, knowing
that there was nothing she could say to help. She remembered once
when she was little and she'd gotten separated from her parents
at the carnival, this carnival to be exact. That was the day she
decided she wanted to work at the carnival, and she thought about
how much fun it had been talking with the carnies and riding the
rides without her parents there to bother her about what she ate
and when. But she also remembered how scared she'd gotten when it
got dark and how relived and happy she was when her parents found
her. She understood that the best thing to do was just get her
home as soon as possibly.
As they approached the information booth Amy's mother began to
become visible. As they got closer Amy's could see that her
mother was also crying. She rushed over into her warm embrace but
was quickly pulled out by her mother's torrent of worried
questions. "Where were you? Are you okay? Do you know how worried
I was? Don't you ever do that again, do you understand me?"
Knowing all these but the last were rhetorical Amy just looked at
the ground and nodded along with what her mother was saying.
After thanking Zahra for her help and apologizing to her mother
for the hundredth time they began to walk to the car.
As they approached the car Amy's pace slowed to a crawl, not
really wanting to be trapped in the car together, but knowing
that if she continued to slow her mother would question her
motive. As they got into the car Amy's eyelids started to get
heavy. They road almost the entire way in silence. Amy's mother
looked in her rearview mirror and found the reason for why it was
so quite. Amy was sleeping peacefully in the back seat. She
smiled to herself and thought about what a long day it had been.
A few minutes later they pulled into their drive way. Opening the
garage door she began to unfasten her seat belt.
She got out of the car and went around the back to wake up her
daughter. She shook her shoulder slightly but the only response
she got was a muffled protest that sounded a little like "don't
wanna". Picking up her sleeping child she carried her into her
room and laid her on the bed. Peeking open a tired eye Amy
muttered," I'm sorry for running away mama…" She looked as though
she wanted to say more but she closed her eye and drifted off to
sleep. Her mother smiled and covered her up.
Not sure if her daughter was asleep or if she was listening
she sighed and whispered," I love you." She kissed her on the
forehead and smiled. If only you knew how worried I was,
she thought. She turned on her nightlight and started walking
towards the door. When she had her hand on the light switch she
heard a breathy," I love you to." She turned off the light and
walked down the hallway to her own room. Hoping he wouldn't be to
mad she began to tell her husband about the busy day they