Audrey stood motionless in the park. She had frozen there almost five minutes ago, looking up at the giant wheel. Evan fanned her with his hat as Danni rolled over with a cup of water.
“Mom, you’re overanalyzing,” Evan said. “Have some water.”
“Take my pulse! Am I breathing? What’s wrong with me?”
“I think you’re paralyzed with fear.”
“I know that! But why?”
“Okay, maybe, maybe you had a traumatic experience as a child. Did you ever hang upside-down a hundred feet in the air?”
“No! I don’t think so—I—I think it’s rolling!”
“Audrey, we’re going for a walk now.”
Danni took Audrey’s hand. She met some resistance at first, but held on as Evan pushed her wheelchair, leading Audrey away from the giant wheel. As soon as Audrey focused on the ground in front of her, she began to relax. She walked a few more steps, then realized she was holding hands with her son’s girlfriend. Her son’s girlfriend! Who knew Evan had a girlfriend? Wait—Carl had said something about seeing Evan at the grocery store. And Joe—what had Joe said?
“Boy, I don’t know,” Audrey said, blushing. She mocked herself: “Hi, I’m Evan’s mom. Pardon me while I make an idiot of myself.”
“Happens all the time,” Danni said. “I’m very intimidating.” She glanced at Evan. “He tripped over me the first time we met.”
“Oh, well, it runs in the family,” Audrey said.
She observed the smile on her son’s face, the first one she’d seen on him since she’d happened on them in the thrift shop. The moment Danni had finished playing the old upright piano—her playing was beautiful, wonderful—Evan had looked around to see who was clapping. Poor kid. The look on his face when he’d seen his mom…
After that, she’d offered them a ride back to the park, half a mile away. Suddenly, the Ferris wheel had appeared. Where had it come from? And when?
“Comes every year, mom,” Evan said. “Just like always.”
“No, not like always,” Audrey said. “This is new.”
©2010 Pam Wells