Violent shrieks echo across the Midway, the fragrance of popcorn saturates every pore of my body. The Ring Toss vendor beckons, lights blind, music deafens – all the giddy glorious environment of the Carnival.
“Wanna do the Fun House?” my best friend, Tilly, says.
“Sure!” I glance down to count my tickets. “Huh.” My brow cinches together tighter than my belt. “I swear I had more than this earlier.”
Tilly presses her lips together. “Yeah, I thought I did, too. Whatever.” She shrugs. “We still wanna go, right?”
My worn chucks follow her shiny boots, as we weave our way through the crowd to the end of the line. It’s longer than any of the other rides, which confirms that it must be better than other Fun Houses. A large mirror hangs just below bubble letters that announce the attraction. If I focus long enough, I see the letters glitter, then change color. A breeze brings a waft of fried goodness and my stomach growls. Have we eaten since we arrived?
The line goes fast, the two of us inside the door within minutes.
“Tilly!” I giggle then yank her around a mirrored corner.
This way. A sign hangs at eye-level, an arrow pointed right.
“Do we follow it?” I say.
“Dunno. Maybe it’s a trick? To get us stuck longer inside?”
“Meh. What can it hurt?”
We both laugh and run down the hall. A million reflections of ourselves flash when we pass.
Knock. Knock. Another sign, this one on a mirrored door.
I glance at my friend, brows raised. Her broad smile answers my question, so we go through to the next room.
Who’s there? This hangs sideways, and we tilt our heads to read it.
“A riddle!” Tilly shouts with glee.
We push around the corner.
Don’t. This sign is low to the ground, right in front of a hole that indicates our need to crawl along our bellies to the next room.
“Don’t?” I bite my lip. “Don’t what?”
“Ummm, I think it’s Don’t Who, silly.”
I roll my eyes. We crawl through.
The two of us gather before the final sign of the Fun House, faces pinched in confusion.
“Well, that was lame.” Tilly huffs a breath, then we walk through the Exit door.
We step outside, the night air crisp and welcome on our skin. That same sweet scent of sugar and fries fills the atmosphere, along with shouts of terrified kids who ride the rollercoaster.
I blink and glance around. Something clings to the edge of my memory, like a dream I just can’t hang on to.
“What do you wanna do next?” I say to my best friend, Tilly.
“Wanna do the Fun House?”
“Sure!” I glance down to count my tickets. “Huh. I swear I had more than this earlier.”
Tilly presses her lips together. “Yeah, I thought I did, too. Whatever. We still wanna go, right?”
©Laura L. Zimmerman 2016