One of the songs from the musical A Catered Affair I reviewed recently for Everything Theatre was titled “Coney Island.” It reminded me of a very short story called “Inside” that I wrote in my junior year at Sarah Lawrence after a field trip to the amusement park.
Jared handed his and Tina’s tickets to the flannel-shirted man with the five o’clock shadow behind the gate.
“Outside or inside?” the man asked.
“Inside,” Jared replied with a glance at Tina. She nodded without looking at him, hunching into herself.
The man ushered them through the metal corrals designed for summer floods of tourists, shepherding them into a green car with a large 3 painted on the side.
“Enjoy your ride,” he croaked.
As they moved slowly backwards up the height of the Wonder Wheel, Jared stole a glance at her—Tina was shivering, staring slightly beyond him out at sea. Her lips were pinched and the slightest furrow creased between her eyebrows. Tina crossed her arms against the cold, leaning into the wind and closing her eyes when they reached the top.
“Look now,” commanded Jared, unzipping his jacket and wrapping half of it around her, drawing her close. He could feel her shivering, but resisting his touch all the same. Tina opened her eyes as the car hurtled forward, shooting them to the outer edge of the wheel.
“Oh!” Tina’s exclamation sent a puff of breath out over the stark midway before them. “Look at that.” Finally she yielded to Jared’s warmth—she wished she had brought an extra sweater or a scarf for the cold.
The view of empty space, an abandoned amusement park, an army recruitment office, and a broken down bumper car lot guarded by two dogs thinned and disappeared as the green car swayed slowly towards earth.
Tina glanced around when the car reached the pavement. No one came to let them out and the car continued backwards, lifting them up and around once more.