by Orlando A. Rebolledo
I boarded the Ferris Wheel alone. My booth was clear glass all over. The door was more a hatch than a door. It closed, I sat, and the wheel went on.
Tall buildings cowered into stumps, roads and highways sunk like trenches in the distance, and the sunset, as I rose, held a green, steady glimmer in the twilight. I looked behind me, far off, over a bed of mist roiling on the horizon, the snow flowed liquid down the mountains like rivers of waking summer. The mist made the peaks look as if they floated in the sky, and in the wind, there was a tune: a bit of the snooze of winter, maybe the yawn of spring, there was a soothing whisper choiring with the birds. It all brought a quaking breathlessness to my chest, still, even if the landscape was always the same.
The wheel was rather slow that day, its gears sent an easy-paced purr over the harbor, and the ships soon seemed like growling miniatures of steel: their smokestacks puffing pallid trails of soot to mark their way. And at last, my booth stopped at the zenith – every second was a delusion of high-born madness in which I lived on top – and I closed my eyes to let the process start.
There at the top, like a solstice if my booth were a sun, an equinox where birth and death are close enough to speak, my past and future lie bare and up for sale. In this particular Ferris Wheel, you see, the rest of your life is valuated and priced to be auctioned – ten years at a time – among all riding the wheel.
People from all over the world gather here, daily, to have their stories told amongst three strangers in a plea for pity, a vying of time from the concession of sorry lives like mine. You could also sell, though, and bid, even beg for donations – so those of all sorts came.
And of course greed and selfishness made their required appearance as in all our matters, but really more good was done than bad. Donations happened every day. I’ve received many myself, although not without contention.
The Ferris Wheel is both revered and reviled, at once cherished and despised, though it has the purpose of saving time, even sharing time, it shows those in doubt what certainty would bring into their lives. It’s a marvelous invention if used right. It allows for a choice, at least, to those who watch their futures, whether to end their lives at their best, ‘till their best, or choose to live it all anyway, as I did, and not put it up for sale.
My future was so miserable, so despicable, that one sinister man thought it proper to offer all his years to me. I was young, and still thought time was equitable with life, so I agreed.
After that, I watched my fate over and over again. I watched it drunk, high, I even cut some of my fingers, but still – it never changed. No matter what I did or sought or avoided – no matter what I created, destroyed, or prevented – nothing changed.
I was beat. Was there no free will?
In a way it was fun to see myself live rather than actually live. It’s what most people do anyway.
So when my last nadir came, I got off the wheel a happy handful of lived-out flame. I made up my mind. All my unlived misery would be lived expectantly, received ecstatically, for there is where I’ll find my liberty… in the resilience I hold, for real, as it all happens, while the fates I saw had all shown me in despair.
For ‘the thing could’ve happened to anyone,’ as Marcus Aurelius wrote, ‘but not anyone could’ve emerged unembittered.”
That is my choice.
Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing