Kate walked the fairgrounds amidst a cottonwood snowstorm. She drifted between past and present as if channel surfing. The booths and concession stands shifted from sepia to high-contrast, and back again. She saw herself in the livestock barn, drunk on smuggled booze and fried oil. The young Katie tumbled over a fence and vomited on a blue-ribbon hog.
After a sojourn in the beer garden, Kate bought a corn dog and walked to the midway. She passed a carnival game, the one where Jake had won her the gigantic stuffed bear. She watched herself blush and decline. He’s a doctor now, she’d heard.
She saw the ride and her knees went out. The corndog fell in the dirt. A ride operator helped her to her feet and asked if she was alright. Kate didn’t answer. She fixed her vision upon the Ferris Wheel. It drew her in.
The ride kicked into gear. Katie watched the carts rise and fall. There was a stirring atop the wheel. A teenager freed himself from his safety belt and stood on the seat. He danced, arms waving about as his friends laughed. Someone watching from the ground screamed, Kate wasn’t sure if it was her. She watched the young man tumble over the edge of the cart and fall to the ground.
“Nick,” said Kate, running to the fence around the Ferris Wheel. The operator looked at her, then back at the wheel.
Katie saw the blood on her bare legs and white tank top. She saw Nick’s head facing the wrong way, and the bone sticking out of his arm. “I’m sorry,” she whispered. Kate fell to the ground. She held Nick’s hand. “I drank too much, I couldn’t go on the ride,” she said. “I should’ve stopped you.”
The ride operator helped her up. “It’s ok,” he said. “Let’s get you some water.”