I come up on deck laughing... then freeze, instantly transported in time.
That smell, that unforgettable cloying aroma of funnel cake and sunburned skin leaves me reeling mid-laughter. I start trembling where I stand, unprepared for the whirring picture reel of memories that appear unbidden behind blindly staring eyes.
I don't notice Bob talking. I don't notice anything except the screams of children living life at their limits. The giggling of a pair of ten-year olds as the ferris wheel spins in reverse, never tiring of that belly flutter they get every time on the descent.
There you are eating cotton candy.
The picture reel keeps spinning.
Your fingers are sticky as you feed me the baby pink floss. I stick my tongue out at you so you can see it dissolve, an innocent and a flirt, all at the same time.
Babies. We were babies.
The wind teases my red sundress. The one you tell me makes me look like that actress.
I hear Bob, and nod numbly, "Yes, I'm okay dear... just the motion I think." His strong hands guide me into a chair.
But, I feel your fingers perfectly interlinked with mine.
I ache to go back and tell myself to hold on till it hurts.
These fingers are the ones that are molded for me.
The images go faster now. I'm breathless with the agony of regret.
I smell your sunburnt skin, taste your kiss chilled by lemon ice. The heat of that night, down at the beach carnival. My first of so many firsts.
I lay my head on your naked chest, love-drunk in a beautiful, black and white world; giggling when your perfect fingers tickle down my side. We're so in love our joy bubbles over. You promise a surprise.
How excited you are. Laughingly holding me back from running into the sea. "Just wait, Bethie... just wait! I promise it will be worth it."
Your grip tightens. You point to a little hill of sand nearby. It starts to bubble, little grains churning as if a mini-Godzilla was emerging from the Earth. My heart skips a beat and then it happens... a turtle pops out its tiny head, followed slowly by one after another of its sisters, brothers, and cousins. All struggle to the sea, the moon their solitary beacon.
Magic is alive tonight. The miracle of life throbs around us and unbeknownst to us, has taken root inside of me.
Bob's face, tanned and dear, nears mine.
The picture wheel stops mid-frame. I blink, dazed.
He kisses my nose. "Let's get our land legs, darling. Maybe, I'll even make you blush on the carousel."
I lay my hand on my empty womb, only ever filled by our miracle. The miracle that I lost the night I lost you.
He winks, hopeful.
A silent urging whispers, my neck prickles, and like magic, Bob's fingers interlink perfectly with mine. Miraculously, I laugh, suddenly aching for a taste of fluffy baby pink floss.