The Hopeful Wanderer – When the Park Slept

I came upon the rusting ruins of an ancient amusement park far, far away from civilization. Its Ferris wheel soared into the clear sky, the broken spokes and missing seats like the popped blood vessels in a drunkard’s eyeball. Next to this, a single roller coaster loop made another eye, and there, a dry water slide snaking along below the two became the thin line of a mouth. Thick, green trees framed the background; they had the patience for a slow takeover.

Carnival music still sounded from some of the rides, tinny notes enticing absent crowds. A drop tower ride plunged downward, eliciting no thrilled screams. Lights flickered above the ring-toss booths. Moldy stuffed animals with black button eyes watched me pass. The air smelled nothing like popcorn or cotton candy and everything like damp and rot. I stopped in the central plaza and craned my head back to look at the Ferris wheel eye.

“Tired,” the park said to me, voice like shrieking gate hinges. “So very tired.”

“Then rest,” I replied. “Time has already been and gone in this place.”

With a wheezing, billowing sigh, the noises of the abandoned park ceased all at once. Ride carts ground to a halt, one or two bulbs popped in a shower of sparks as the lights went out, and the ticket stand shutters rattled closed. No music sounded, leaving only the rush of wind blowing through the treetops.

I stood listening to the silence a moment, until hesitant birdsong began to rise. Then I exited the park gates, leaving the ruin to its well-earned slumber.


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