sat there reading his morning newspaper. He couldn't help but glance
longingly at the empty chair across from him. It was May 12th today
- his 75th birthday.
years," he mused. "Who would have ever thought it?"
day was noteworthy for another reason: the carnival was back in
town. In fact, it was the very same carnival that had been traveling
West to his little town of Mulberry, Oregon for a little over fifty
years. It was the place that he had proposed to his wife, Mildred,
an amazing forty-seven years earlier.
had abruptly and unexpectedly taken her away from him just three
months before. Sid had been desperate, yet tender, at her side.
She had died at home, where she belonged, with the bed facing so
that she could admire the garden that she had loved so much. As
Sid had kissed her on the forehead for the very last time, he had
been taken aback by the expression on her face. She looked at peace,
and finally out of her pain. When she died, a large part of him
died with her.
almost smiled as he read the advertisement in his paper for the
carnival. Yes, he had proposed to Mildred in the tunnel of love
all those years ago, back when he was nothing more than a nervous
apprentice engineer with minimal prospects at best.
was a first year nursing student. He hadn't expected her to say
yes, yet she did without a moment's hesitation. That was the humble
beginning of spending almost half a century as man and wife.
never were rich, but they managed to acquire a cozy house and live
a contented life together. Their only regret was that they could
never have a child; Mildred was unable to conceive.
year, the carnival returned and Sid and Mildred went to relive the
moment in which he proposed.
year was going to be different. His beloved best friend was not
going to be at his side. He considered the possibility of not going,
but he felt somehow Mildred would have wanted for him to go, to
reflect on the memories they had shared on that seemingly magical
mind made up, he grabbed his hat and coat and got into his red 1976
MGB. It had been Mildred's dream car. Despite being almost thirty
years old, the car ran and looked as good as new. As his arthritic
fingers fumbled with the key in the ignition, he only longed to
feel as strong as the car did.
a few moments, he was pulling up into Mulberry City Park, where
the carnival was being held. Sid parked the MGB and struggled to
his feet. It took some time to get to the entrance as his age was
definitely starting to show with the wear and tear upon his body.
His muscles ached and complained at
every step. Yet it was a perfect May morning and he breathed in
the scent of the flowers.
always loved the spring," He remembered.
tear started to creep from his eye, but he bit his lip and forced
back the sentiment, dabbing his eye with his handkerchief. "A
man should never cry in public," he remembered his father telling
him. "Grief should be a private affair."
dutifully paid his seven dollars to the vendor, remembering when
it had only cost a quarter to enter. He was only going to go on
one ride and then his task would be complete.
was still early, and there wasn't much of a crowd. The carnival
wouldn't get busy until the sun went down. It would be full of kids
and hoodlums then. He and Mildred always despised that. Over the
years they had been attending, the teenagers seemed to be getting
more and more ill behaved and disrespectful.
he waited in the short line, he passed the time quietly surveying
the faces of the folks operating it. Many of those faces had also
been returning year after year.
struck him as odd that he always remembered the carnival as being
twice this large and three times as grand. Paint was starting to
chip and fade, the place was long overdue for a face lift. In fact,
there was evidence of signs of aging all about. It was like glancing
into a mirror, he thought.
as Sid was about to board, a young giggling couple exited the ride.
They almost bumped into him; having only eyes for each other. He
smiled as he remembered what that felt like.
carnie in charge of the ride looked surprised that the old man was
going to ride alone. "We don't get much of that on this ride,"
he sneered, revealing a distinct lack of teeth in that weather worn
took no mind, he was on a mission. Once fitted snugly into the seat
- which felt much more cramped than it had before - he looked at
the empty place next to him and the tears began to well up once
more. This time, he allowed them to trickle gently down his wrinkled
cheeks as his journey began with the flashing of lights and he vanished
solitarily into the tunnel.
and a half minutes later, as the ride pulled back into the loading
area, the carnie spied the old man, slumped down over the safety
guard. Startled, he rushed over to lift the man's head, amazed that
the still body appeared to be smiling and looking completely at
was much fuss and excitement as police and ambulance sirens filled
the air. After a few photographs, the officers were satisfied as
to what had happened and the body was taken away.
must have had a heart attack," the carnie said to anyone who
would listen. "The old fool should have never gone on a thrill
ride by himself. No sir, he never should have done it..."
opened his eyes, finding himself still on the ride. Staring at his
hands, he was taken aback at how the skin was smooth and had a shine
about it that he hadn't known in years.
happened?" he wondered. "Where am I?"
aching bones no longer throbbed and even his fading vision seemed
better. A strange and wonderful feeling of well being had suddenly
was then that he recognized the perfume. How could he not? It had
been his Mildred's favorite; she had worn it for years, never tiring
of its delicate, floral scent.
glanced to his right, straight into the green eyes of his beloved
wife, looking as beautiful as the day they had met. As his heart
beat faster and with shaking fingers, he reached out his hand to
he knew where he was.