Welcome to Ferris Wheel, my week’s response to the image prompt of Fiction in a Flash Challenge 2021, week 39, as initiated by Author Suzanne Burke.
The Ferris Wheel
The man with the felt hat liked the park because its tangled alleys – bordered by old trees that saw as many sunsets as he did – made him feel like a ship wandering the seven seas. He would come here whenever he caught an opportunity, sometimes as often as every second month – he was an optimist – for the man with the felt hat had a job, a job he once enjoyed, like a fisherman reeling in the big catch of the day. Now he was more like a fish in a net… so to say. To keep up with the nautical theme, he smiled.
But not today. Today he was a ship choosing its course across seas he knew too well. A ship with a set compass.
Left at the newsstand, then the first alley left again stood the tree where he’d last seen the Bishop. Ah, to spot its red head profiled against the crisp winter sky again!
She’d draw him in his nest, the woman who sometimes sat on the bench across from his. She’d been lucky to spot him in his nest long enough to sketch him. Quite the artist she was. A natural talent. A natural beauty too, her alabaster profile against the clear blue sky. If he’ll only see it again.
‘He’s got himself a pair, you know,’ she spoke as he walked past her bench.
‘The Bishop?’ he asked like it was the most natural thing in the world for two strangers to engage in conversation about a bird.
She nodded, forcing him to turn his head back from the bare tree and to bend to see her drawing. She turned the sketch pad to show him what she’d been working on.
‘You’ve been away for a while,’ the woman smiled. ‘It was a treat to watch them meet. But I drew them for you, so you won’t miss it.’
‘I do wonder how they see us,’ and he accentuated they with a tip of his head towards the tree. His hand flew up as if he was measuring the height of the arbor. ‘From the height of their branch,’ and his head stood upturned for a moment, smiling at the sun, and at the peaceful life of the little birds.
That’s when his phone rang, like a cloud chilling one to the bone in a flash, in the heat of the day.
She smiled and returned to her drawing, allowing him his privacy.
‘Work,’ he sighed upon his return.
‘And you have to go,’ she said and she tilted her head the way she used to whenever the Bishop would fly away for the day – and she knew the bird-watching was over… ‘Again,’ the slant of her head had added, like a whisper, and he’d heard it.
Was he right in assuming? Should he? At his age? Should he be a Bishop?
‘I wonder,’ he started then stopped as if a blast of wind had frozen the words on his lips.
‘Yes?’ and her eyebrows arched the way they did whenever the Bishop was in sight.
‘The Ferris wheel,’ he waved towards the far end of the park. Last carriage goes up at 17:45. Would you do me the honour and join me? We’d get a Bishop’s glimpse over the world.’
He couldn’t tell her how he knew the schedule. He couldn’t tell her it was his job to know everything, any trivial piece of information, and use it to his advantage.
She smiled but didn’t ask how he knew such details. She smiled brighter than he’d ever seen her smile for the Bishop, and she tilted her head.
Had she agreed?
‘I’ll wait for you at the leg of the Ferris wheel. With two tickets,’ and he lifted his felt hat in salute.
He didn’t count on the crowds, on the rowdy group of teenagers celebrating a birthday. For the first time, he didn’t count on being swept by the crowd inside an open carriage. He was at the top of the wheel before he knew it. The ground squeezed below, too far for him to see clearly with his reading glasses.
Was she there? That speck on the ground, was it she? He boxed the air to reveal his watch. 17:49 and darkness all around.
The lights of the Ferris wheel mocked him, as did the glow of the city.
He was but a fish trapped in a net, a fish who dreamed to be a Bishop for a night.
Copyright © Patricia Furstenberg. All Rights Reserved.
I wrote the follow-up: Two of a Kind. 🙂
Hello everyone and welcome to the “Fiction in A Flash Challenge!” Each week Author Suzanne Burke will feature an image and invites everyone to write a Flash Fiction or Non-Fiction piece inspired by that image in any format and genre of your choosing. Maximum word count: 750 words. Suzanne runs a great blog as well as authoring many exciting books. WECOME TO THE WORLD OF SUZANNE BURKE