Adam sometimes captured the memory of this feeling when he'd see a strong wind tearing the leaves from a tree and carrying them away. It made him wonder how much control he really had. Was he just like those leaves in the wind, entirely at the mercy of the elements? Had he ever really gotten off that ride?
His friends lived for all those thrill rides except for Adam. He remembered puking his guts up one time, after the ride finally ended. Well, maybe not his guts, but a couple of Ring Dings and a hot dog he'd eaten before going on. The centrifugal force prevented you from puking while the ride was in motion, kind of like when you do things in life that are sickening and you know you shouldn't be doing them but you just do them anyway-the motions are still there, so after a month or a year of doing nothing good with your life, you feel that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach again.
Adam thought back to the time he went there with a bunch of his friends from school.
They were all keyed up about going to it for weeks. It was all they could talk about. Well maybe it was all that William could talk about because of the food, but Jeremy and Adam wanted to go on the roller coasters. Jeremy also wanted to go into the Haunted House to scare other people that sat behind him. Sophia and Meredith also were there; she had picked her up on the way there to meet up with Sarah. It has been the first time she had been out of the house since her cousin had passed away and her mother thought she should go out to enjoy herself with her friends. When Adam saw that Sophia was there, his eyes lit up like gold. Sweat poured off of his face and his hands started to get clammy. After a moment's hesitation, he finally walked up to the three girls along with Jeremy.
"Hi, Sophia." Adam said.
She shrugged and just tagged along quietly.
"So you hyped up for the fair?" Adam asked her next.
She shrugged again.
"Yeah I have been dreaming about this fair for a week." Jeremy admitted.
"Boy they sure have good cotton candy." William sighed.
"You've been to a lot?" Sophia asked William.
"Sure." Adam answered for him. Sophia looked at Adam and then turned back to William and proceeded to have a conversation with him.
"Well." Adam scratched the top of his head and looked over at Allison who was standing by Krystal. Tammy was reaching over to grab a hot deep fried Oreo. He waved at Allison and she waved back but didn't venture over. Adam saw that Sophia and William were engaged in a conversation but took it upon himself to butt in the middle of it.
"Sorry to interrupt you guys, but I heard that Ms. Cumbersome is picking something by Jane Austen for our next play but she hasn't revealed what exactly." Adam said. "Should be interesting though."
"Yeah." William agreed. "I'm always up for a classic."
"It's probably going to be Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility." Sarah added.
"I hope its Emma." Meredith confessed. "I always liked that one. And I heard Emma was used for inspiration for the movie Clueless."
"Really?" Sarah thought to herself. "Well that would be awesome to do if only we had the Mighty Mighty Bosstones to perform on stage."
"And the guy that dances like the Rooster?" They both laughed at the thought.
"It must be awesome to be paid just to do nothing but dance on stage and not even really well." William added.
"On the topic of books have you read any of those?" Adam asked Sophia. "I know you read a lot."
"No I haven't actually." She replied.
"Oh well …you should when you get the chance."
"Oh ok." Sophia looked away. She didn't inquire anymore about it and turned away to look at one of the games that the other students were playing. Adam sighed deeply.
"I was thinking that another weekend; we could all go over to the movie house." Jeremy proposed the idea to Meredith. "My brother got a job there as manager already and is charging half off on everything."
"I suppose." Meredith said.
Sarah returned. "That sounds like a good idea." She turned to Meredith and whispered to her.
"He's never invited us to anything before. What's with this change of heart? I thought we were too un-cool to hang around with?"
"I know." Meredith rolled her eyes and turning away from group. "He's even invited us to some birthday party at his aunt's house in the Hamptons 4 months from now."
"He is definitely playing the field." Sarah told her.
"He must be really desperate."
Allison tagged along with their friends and watched Adam as he tried to keep up with the other girls. Krystal and Tammy walking next to her spoke freely about what they saw.
"Can you believe at how pathetic he looks?" Krystal mouthed off and turned to look away.
"Who?" Tammy asked her.
"Jeremy. Of course. Meredith wants nothing to do with him but he still insists upon it."
"Adam isn't any better." Tammy observed. "Look how he is with Sophia." Tammy suddenly felt like she said the wrong thing when Krystal indicated that Allison was behind them. "Oh, sorry."
"Don't be." Allison said not feeling the less threatened by the situation. "I sort of know about her. I just don't really know the basics. He said he was tutoring her and that she liked him or something or other and ever since she found out about me she avoided him, but he claims he did no sort of flirting with her at all, she just sort of made it up and kept calling the house and was upset when he told her that he was seeing me."
"That was a lie. The truth is he asked her to prom and then stood her up." Tammy explained.
Allison seemed surprised at what she was over hearing.
"I don't like the girl much myself." Krystal admitted. "But that is exactly what had happened. Adam just clammed up I guess. I don't know why he would ask her if he is dating you."
"I don't either. I mean I wasn't going to prom and he already knew that. But I said if he asked someone else I wouldn't have cared at all. I even suggested the idea."
"How come?" Tammy asked.
"It's a personal thing between the two of us."
"I get it. Honestly, I really do feel bad for the girl. She has a stepfather that hits her and her cousin was just killed in an accident." Tammy admitted.
"What kind of accident?"
"A motorcycle accident."
"Oh man. What a shame." Allison felt sorry for her.
Krystal shrugged and seemed a bit flustered that they were still going on about Sophia.
"Well. I'm going to get some lemonade. You want something?"
"No thanks." Tammy said. After Krystal was clear out of sight, she turned back to Allison. "And just between you and me, I feel Sophia did a much better job than any of the roles Krystal played. If it wasn't for that situation happening and her having a melt down, it would have been perfect. Krystal thinks she is better than everyone, including me."
"I saw that." Allison remembered. "I was there to see it. It was frightening on many levels."
"You're telling me." Tammy agreed. "She ruined half the props."
Adam put his hands in his pockets and just walked along side of his friends. He lookded disappointed. Jeremy went on the Haunted House ride twice. William wouldn't go on it because he thought he would have nightmares. Jeremy said "he was a baby." Jeremy threw some balls at an old man to watch him fall into the water. Adam won a blue bear and turned to Sophia. He asked her if she wanted it, but she said that she didn't like bears.
"You don't like bears? That has to be the silliest thing I ever heard. All girls like them." Adam told her.
"Well I'm not like other girls obviously."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Adam asked.
"Don't you have a bear collection?" Sarah asked now.
"NO." She gave her a look from the corner of her eye.
"Sophia. I've been in your room. I've seen them."
"Well then I have too many." She replied back and turned to William.
"Hey Will come with me to get cotton candy. My treat." She insisted.
"Ok." He said.
Adam handed Allison the bear after she caught up with them and stood between Sophia and William.
"Sophia, this is getting ridiculous!"
"What do you mean?"
"I'm just trying to be your friend. What the hell is your problem?" Adam called her out.
"Maybe she has Pms." Jeremy added chuckling.
"Well whatever it is … she needs to get over it."
"I don't have Pms and there is no situation that I need to get over, thank you." She walked off and sits on a bench by herself.
Adam rolled his eyes.
"Fuck her." He walked away to stand by another group of friends. Allison still holding onto the bear decided to take it up on herself to walk over to Sophia. She sat next to her.
"I don't know if you know who I am."
Sophia looked embarrassed.
"I do and I'm sorry."
"For what?" Allison asked her.
"For not knowing about you."
"That's wasn't your fault. And between you and me you have every right to be upset with Adam. He had no right to lie to you or make you think he liked you in any sort of way. I'm not sure why he feels the need to pick at old wounds if that's what he is trying to do. I think he likes you; he's just confused now that's all. But he is not doing anything about the situation and you shouldn't either. You have no obligation to be friends with anyone who isn't honest with you."
"I know we are all going through something." Sophia admitted. "It's just … I don't feel comfortable with the way he looks at me or tries to act like my friend. I know he's said mean things about me to other people. I am not like that. I don't talk about people like that. I might be a little naive at times, but I'm honest."
"I understand." Allison said. "You have every right to feel what you want to feel and by not taking the bear, you are making a statement. That is your right. Oh and by the way I'm sorry about what happened to your cousin." Allison touched Sophia's hand gently. "That must have been really hard for you." Sophia looked up and smiled at her.
"Thank you." Sophia said. "It was very hard but I've been feeling much better. I feel him around still, watching over me."
"He is." She assured her.
At the last minute when Mary wanted to go there and they got out their bikes and rode over, it was too late. The feast was over. Adam realized how there was nothing more desolate than to ride through a fair that was finished. He stood amidst the deafening silence, the debris, paper wrappers and half eaten articles of food littered the streets. At one point he rode over a bottle cap, lost control of his steering and toppled over-scrapping the bottom of his elbow and knee on the dusty concrete. Mary stopped ahead and looked over her shoulder.
"Adam, you alright?"
"Yeah." He wiped the powdered sugar and dirt off his legs and walked his bike for a little bit. As he came across a confection stand, he saw a blue stuffed bear lying on its side and for a moment he was struck by the past solidarity of this ghost town. It was like the lesson Mary had taught him a day or two earlier about the past and things changing that you cannot control, but in a less heartbreaking way. The past was the past; there was nothing left of it except for good or bad memories that are stored away in your mind for safe keeping. He bent down and picked it up, but didn't take it with him. He just put it someplace safe. He didn't want his cousin seeing him take home a stuffed bear. He was too old for things like that anyways. Plus it was embarrassing enough falling off your bike.
As Adam and Mary rode back to the house and they put back the bikes in the shed, Mary looked at Adam's face and noticed how forlorn he looked. She felt bad suddenly.
"Are you sure you are alright?"
"I don't know." Adam repeated back on command.
"Your knee hurts that bad?" She looked concerned. Adam realized that Mary didn't mean how he felt inside, the pit of his stomach that had seemed to grow a hole bigger than the scrape on his knee. He almost forgot about that.
"Oh that is nothing. I'll just put some ointment on it and bandage it up." Adam consoled her.
"Ok." Mary said. She shut and locked the shed. "I am pretty disappointed in myself for not getting there on time. I really was looking forward to eating a fried Oreo." Adam was half listening to what she was saying; something else was on his mind. It clouded his thoughts completely.
"Can you show me where the ointment is in the house? Maybe I can make us some fried Oreos with Tony's deep fryer." he finally said.
Mary looked excited. She had forgotten all about that.
"Alright." She said opening the front door of the house and they went inside.