The drive through the hills in the early evening light should have been soothing, but I was too excited to appreciate the sun-dappled trees and the familiar curves in the road. I was driving to meet a friend, one of my last ties to this place.
I parked my car and crossed the street to where Bill was waiting, guitar in hand. We exchanged quick hugs, a pleasantry or two, and as always, it was like we hadn’t spent a day apart.
After a while, I gestured at the empty expanse of the town green. “What happened to the carnival?”
Bill sat down on the brittle grass and started tuning his guitar. “A few years ago,” he said around the pick between his teeth, “people just stopped coming.” He struck a chord, adjusted a peg, and began to play. I settled on the ground to listen. The notes sounded disjointed, almost unearthly, but what did I know about jazz?
He shifted modes, and the music coalesced into chaos. Lights whirled, children shrieked. The Volunteer Firemen’s Carnival was in full swing. I had come to expect small magics whenever Bill played, but this was sorcery of the highest caliber. I saw familiar faces everywhere: at the bingo table, the ticket booth, the ferris wheel. Childhood friends who had disappeared years ago into their grown-up lives. One figure spotted us, gestured urgently.
“I thought Len was in Philly!” I said, waving back. “You’ve outdone yourself, Bill.” Len gestured again.
The notes faded away, and I waited for things to return to normal. They didn’t. The look on Len’s face was stricken. I realized he wasn’t beckoning me. He was warding me off.
“People stopped coming,” Bill said again from behind a foggy curtain. “So I started keeping them here.”
This post was written in response to the Trifecta Writing Challenge prompt:
You should write a creative response using the given word. You must use the word in your response, and you must use it correctly. Your response can be no fewer than 33 and no more than 333 words. This week’s word is:
1: a : a normal line
b : the portion of a normal line to a plane curve between the curve and the x- axis
2: one that is normal
3: a form or state regarded as the norm : standard