First and foremost….MEGAN ORSINI WILL BE VISITING ME IN LESS THAN TWO WEEKS!
Okay. Now that I have that out of my system. Megan. I love her. And frankly, who the hell doesn't? I mean she's quirky, intelligent, witty, hilarious, adorable, sweet, fantastic, hilarious, beautiful, a damn good writer, and hilarious.
It awes me that such a funny and perky person can write the deeply moving and sometimes dark things she does. So when I asked her to do this, I was not sure what I was going to get. Lighhearted? Eery? Moving? Haunting?
What I got was the most perfect blend of contemporary romance but serious and reflective. I love this piece. LOVE. It's haunting and moving, but in a completely unexpected way. To say she is talented would be a joke. SHE'S AMAZING. SHE WILL SOON BE IN ALL THE BOOKSTORES! ALL OF THEM! And it's perfect that she starts the edge of our Memory Project moving in a different direction.
I love her. I love her writing. I share her with you. Because I'm giving like that.
The Memory Project (continued)
I flipped to the next page. Bold words in black calligraphy at the top of the page caught my attention.
"First it was 'Things They Kept', now 'Things They Lost'?" I guess I should've been happy. At least there was some sort of organization even if I couldn't for the life of me figure it out. I just wanted to know who these people were and what they all had in common? Why was this suitcase so damn important it had to be buried? All it seemed to be was some strange pictures with not even a trace of people in any of them. No family portraits. No friends laughing. No significant events like a wedding or birth. Why were these photos kept? What was the significance?
A color photo. A Ferris wheel in neon.
(to be continued…)
The Ferris Wheel
By Megan Orsini
Wherever we went Jason always found the Ferris Wheel. Whether from the passenger side of my Sunfire, or the driver’s seat of his mom’s minivan he’d point out the brightly flashing neon lights of the slow-moving contraption at the local amusement park, or the one the traveling carnival brought to town, or, his favorite, the one that sat on the block of concrete near the water. Whatever our destination, purpose, reason for going anywhere he could tell where we were by what Ferris wheel he could or couldn’t see. He said he liked the consistency - the way the path was always the same reliable circle.
On my last night in town we went to the one on the water. It was the spot of many firsts. Our first kiss, our first I Love You, our first fight, and our first reconciliation. Something about the spinning lights brought out the romantic in him. When our seat stopped at the top we saw everything: the city and the surrounding neighborhoods, the playgrounds and swimming pools, the length of the river until it curved out of view at the horizon.
Everything was just a little bit smaller and less intimidating. I felt like God. Like if I wanted to I could pluck things up with my fingers and hold them in the palm of my hand, or crush them under my fist, accordingly. I raised my hand and positioned a brick structure with twinkling lights between my thumb and forefinger. I squinted and then I squeezed. I imagined the bricks breaking apart under the pressure. I relished the power.
“What are we destroying today?” Jason asked.
“Brick building on the corner,” I said, pointing.
“That’s the fro-yo place.”
“It’s just a brick building,” I said, because from up there distinctions didn’t matter. From up there a brick building could be any building.
“I’ve never been on a plane,” I said. One passed over us, far too low, or maybe we were just too high. The lights blinked as it streaked across the sky and I knew what it was but I made a wish anyway because I’d wish on anything. I was always wishing and the wishes were just blown away in the wind. They were nothing. They were the pennies you dropped on the ground and didn’t bother picking up because they were only pennies.
“Me neither,” he said. Jason leaned back and draped an arm over my shoulder. The fireworks at the baseball game were ending, There were loud pops and snaps and sizzling and the empty barrels fell into the water. It was a movie moment. Time stood still and all he had to do is kiss me and I wanted him to, but we were slowly making our way back to the ground, one drop at a time and it was raining fire and we were not burning so I was afraid to change anything. Even the slightest alteration could have sent us into a fiery descent and I couldn’t take another crash so I closed my eyes and sunk into Jason. The sporadic bangs turned into one long burst. A machine gun aimed into the sky. Around us people oohed and aahed and children clapped and yelled and all I could see was the colored smoke that hung in the air. I never saw the beauty in things, only the destruction left behind.
The noise abruptly stopped. We were in the middle, halfway between the top of the Wheel and the bottom and soon we’d walk off and we’d walk away and I didn’t know about Jason but I knew I wouldn’t look back.
“I will one day,” I said. “Get on a plane. And when I do I’m buying a one-way ticket. I’ll just keep going. I’ll land someplace, look around, and then get another flight to a new place. I’ll go all the way around the world.”
“And then you’ll come back here?” Jason stared at the sky.
“No,” I said. “I’m never coming back here.”
“Would you care?” I asked.
“Of course I’d care. I’d miss you.”
“Maybe you can come. Or maybe I’ll meet you somewhere. Ten years. We’ll meet in Paris. A little cobblestoned side street in the rain.”
“Why go all the way to Paris? We have cobblestone streets here if you head far enough into the suburbs. And in ten years we’ll have a reunion anyway.”
“You really never think about what else is out there?” I asked him.
“Yeah. I mean, it’ll be cool to travel one day. But I’m happy.”
“I’m happy,” I said.
Pause in the conversation as we slipped downward another rung.
“You’re not happy,” Jason said.
“I’m happy right now.” My head was still on his shoulder but my hands were clasped tightly in my lap.
Jason rubbed my shoulder. “You can’t lie to me,” he said and he was right. He was always right.
I let a few tears slide out of my cheeks, but they were silent. No sobs or accompanying hiccups. Just loose drops that had nowhere else to go. I wiped them as we moved once again, closer to the bottom than the top. One more motion and it’d be our turn to go and I realized how much I didn’t want to get there.
When the tech unlocked the bar and set us free I got off first and I walked across the rickety metal platform and onto the concrete. I walked away, I crossed my arms over my chest. I didn’t notice Jason when he rushed to catch up. He put a hand on my shoulder and startled me. I jumped about a million miles into the air.
“Sorry,” he said. He laughed. I could always make him laugh. “Where to now?”
I looked to the sky. We always looked to the sky like it held the answers in the clouds and we were waiting for them to rain down on us but the answers never came when we most wanted them to. The stars began to work their way out of the smoke that continued to hang limply in the air, disbursing slowly. “Anywhere but home,” I told him. “To the moon.”
“You got it. I can take you there.”
“You can take me to the moon?”
“I can take you anywhere. I will take you anywhere.”
“And what if I don’t want to stop there? What if I want to visit a nearby star and then another and another?”
“The little princess.” Jason pulled me in tight for a hug. We fit so perfectly, my head at his shoulder, his chin on my forehead. He stroked my hair and squeezed. “I got you, Ash. I got you and I’m never letting go. Wherever that takes us.”
After we crossed the bridge I made Jason stop the car and I jumped out to get one last picture of the Ferris wheel glowing green from the other side of the water. But for the quiet swish of the water below me the scene was silent, a still photograph. My memory of this night would be wrapped up in this view.
The next day I got in my car and drove away and I didn’t even look in the mirror as the city receded behind me. I left no note, I said no goodbyes, I didn’t return calls. Maybe Jason didn’t let go, but I sure did. I never looked back.
Find Megan Orsini on twitter: @Morsini
and her blog here: morsini.blogspot.com