Five summers after the “fortune teller” incident, Lydia finally decided to return to the carnival. She had been so shaken up by the incident that she couldn’t sleep for months after. Her brother had to take her to some doctor lady who didn’t take her temperature or blood, but just sat there asking her questions about her sleeping habits. A few weeks after, people starting whispering about her. It didn’t help that Daddy was never around to take her. He was always “working.” She winced as she pictured her father passed out in his office chair, hands poised over the typewriter mimicking an actual workingman.
Lydia stood motionless at the entrance to the carnival, her long blonde hair blowing in the summer breeze. It was amazing how carnivals were really the only things on Earth that never changed. Every year the same rides were set up, flashing bright lights and catchy music to attract passersby. Every year the same popcorn was sold, the cheap circus kind and sweet caramel. Even the guy that sold it was the same hairy guido with a wifebeater spotted with yellow butter popcorn stains. Or if it wasn’t the same guy, it looked exactly like him. Lydia tried to hide the enormous amount of tickets that she got for free from her father in her pink backpack. You would think that having a father who owned a carnival, even if he was a drunk, would make her popular but it just made things worse.
“Hey Loopy Lydie! Give us some of your tickets! I only got four left, and the Zipper costs five!” Lydia turned around slowly to face a crowd of kids from her school, all with outstretched, grubby hands and a mean look to their sunburned faces.
“You know you can’t keep ‘em all in that backpack of yours!”
“If I had a rich Daddy I’d keep ‘em to myself too!”
One of the bigger kids hushed the group, pulled his baseball cap over his eyes and bellowed, “Maybe we have to tell her fortune first! Then she’ll have to miss another week of school!”
Lydia rushed through the crowd, trying not to remember. Damn it! That kid had to bring it up! She couldn’t see in the bright sunlight, but it must have been Stanley, she thought as she pushed through the crowd of carnival-goers. She concentrated on making it to the new Zipper ride before they realized that the object of their teasing had slipped out of sight.