It always seems foggy
here on the road
we ride to morning.
Today, even Wednesday,
the equinox of the week,
can open only one eye,
letting the other lid fall
as she tries to crawl
back under the covers
Meanwhile, we hear
October tapping her foot
with each fallen leaf.
Impatiently, she waits
to crest that autumn horizon,
even though she knows
it’s all downhill
Photo and poem by Joseph Hesch © 2014
His daughter-in-law told Charlie Bates she thought his six-year-old granddaughter, Charlotte, might be too young, too frightened, to take her first ride on the Rainbow Fun Park’s famous Ferris wheel, though Charlie was adamant.
“I had my first ride on The Rainbow when I was Charl’s age,” Charlie said. “You just make sure you get a picture or two of us on it with your phone, okay?”
When Charlie arrived home that evening, he found six photos of Charlotte and him beaming as they whirled above the soon-to-close-forever amusement park attached to an email that read in part: “Rode nearly every ride at the Fun Park, and all she could talk about on the way home was riding with you on that Ferris wheel, Dad.”
Charlie breathed a whistle and clicked SAVE on each colorful shot, while with his left hand he clicked the shiny serrated edge of an old black and white photo of an old man and a boy, on the back of which was written in his Mom’s hand: “Dad and Charlie, age 6, ride The Rainbow, 1958.”
When I saw Lillie McFerrin’s Five Sentence Fiction prompt word WHEELS this week, I knew I wanted to twist that tale just a little. Luckily (or maybe not so luckily), the storied Hoffman’s Playland, an Albany area institution for more than 60 years, closed last week to much fanfare and sadness. As a kid who had his first amusement park rides at Hoffman’s, and as a new granddad, I knew I had to write something like this story.
For sixty round trips of the hour hand of his grandmother’s wooden clock, which he broke some indeterminable time ago, Pål Rønning, had not seen the sun rise above the eastern horizon, which his grandfather told him was out beyond those scrubby trees.
Compasses grew confused about direction this close to the top of the world, just as Pål got confused when he moved to this desolate spot when his parents died in an Oslo car crash, how he got confused even more by the however-many days, or whatever one called them, he had been alone during this horror called Polar Night.
As he lay there by the fire, staring at the images of his grandparents sleeping at the table, staring at the ceiling, he didn’t think anything around him was real anymore, even the winds that knocked at the door he no longer answered.
“I am alone here and will never see anyone again, or maybe all around me is just a dream and I and the darkness are all that is real,” Pål wrote on a page of an undated journal the hunting party out of Longyearbyen found, along with Björn and Maria Rønning, frozen in blood there at the table of their cabin.
What they didn’t find was young Pål Rônning, who had decided to take a midday stroll one night under the Aurora Borealis, so sure that it was noon in Oslo and not something imaginary again like people, April and that great ball in the sky that once was the Sun.
A quick Five Sentence Fiction based on Lillie McGerrins prompt DARKNESS.