Eddie brings Marguerite to Ruby Pier for her seventeenth birthday.
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters/places or the general theme of the story. All of that belongs to Mitch Albom.
Down and Around
It was Eddie's best idea yet.
He ran a fine-tooth comb through his hair to keep it in place, and then adjusted his red bowtie. It was Marguerite's seventeenth birthday and he was brining her down to Ruby Pier for a night she would – hopefully – never forget.
Marguerite smoothed her hands over her favourite blue dress. She had worn it a dozen times, but it never seemed to get old. It was like her favourite song, she never grew tired of it. She had been wearing it the day she met Eddie, and since then, she had worn it like a good luck charm. He had told her once how beautiful she looked in it.
Today was Marguerite's seventeenth birthday, and she could not help but smile as she rolled on her ruby red lipstick. It seemed appropriate – Eddie was taking her to Ruby Pier for the evening. He had told her she had a surprise for her, and she could not think of anything else.
She loved surprises.
Marguerite loved surprises, and Eddie knew this. He took one last look at himself in the mirror and then descended his stairs to leave and pick Marguerite up. Inside, his stomach was fluttering and out of control. He was always slightly nervous before seeing Marguerite; her angelic face was slightly intimidating, she was way out of his league, but the anxiousness always faded. It was easy to tell that Marguerite adored Eddie as much as he adored her.
His mother was tidying up below the stairs when he departed from his bedroom. She squealed slightly, almost like a pig, cupping her hands over her chest. "Oh Eddie," she gushed. "You look so handsome." She approached her son and enveloped him in a bone crunching hug.
Eddie gently pushed his mother away, his face bright pink with embarrassment. He waved away his mother's compliment. "Come on, Ma, I'm going to be late!"
His mother pulled back, all emotional and teary-eyed. "You two have fun now," she enthused.
"We will, Ma."
Marguerite always waited for him in her dining room's window; an enormous, classic bay seat window that showcased to the outside world all that occurred on the other side of it. The events which varied from Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners to the brunch parties her mother held monthly. And recently, it held the figure of a beautiful dark haired girl with eager eyes and a blue dress.
The hill at the end of her street seemed to tower close to the sky in contrast to Eddie's silhouette against the horizon. Her heart danced in her chest as he drew nearer and nearer. She raced to the door and waited for him there under her porch light. Marguerite imagined herself in a play, standing beneath a spotlight, waiting for her Romeo.
Eddie finally reached her front steps, and climbed them until he was so close she could smell his fresh just-showered scent. He smiled sheepishly as he presented her with a mammoth bouquet of daisies and blue cornflowers. She blushed, her eyes sparkling with bliss. She smelled them.
"Eddie," she breathed, "you didn't have – "
"You look beautiful tonight."
Eddie felt honoured that Marguerite had worn her blue dress. Did she remember that she was wearing it the day they met, or was it only him who remembered? Either way, she appeared just as beautiful.
They made their way to Ruby Pier together. Eddie held Marguerite's hand in his. It was an exceptional night; the air was warm and the wind was gentle. The sky was clear, every star was visible, and shone proudly next to each other. He breathed in deeply, trying to remember every minor detail about this night.
The pier appeared as they turned around a bend. Eddie looked down at Marguerite and she looked up at him; their eyes burned into each other's.
"I'm excited," she told him. Her hands were quivering with anticipation and he could almost hear the delighted rhythm of her heartbeat.
"You should be," he replied with a laugh. "How does it feel being seventeen?"
Marguerite shrugged. "Honestly, not much different from sixteen."
Eddie nodded. "I felt the same way."
She had always been a daredevil; the first to try Ruby Pier's most daring rides. But her favourite ride had always been the Ferris wheel. She loved how far you could see from the top of it; the entire land of the pier visible for moments. She loved lights; she loved the breeze that always greeted the riders at the top. No matter what new ride came to the pier, she would always, without question, love the Ferris wheel the most.
When they entered Ruby Pier, they were greeted by numerous people, both familiar and not. Most wished her a happy birthday and gifted her with a smile and an occasional hug. Marguerite thought it was nice that people stopped to take a few seconds out of her life to celebrate seventeen years of her's.
It was dusk, and the pier was lit up by colourful lights. The salty sea smell engulfed her, and she stopped to breathe in.
"I love the smell of the ocean," Eddie mused, squeezing her hand and steering her in the direction of the taffy stand. "It's so comforting."
Marguerite agreed. "Taffy?" she giggled, giving him a quizzical look. She had never once tried it.
"Taffy," he said, his thin lips hinting the coming of a smile. God, she loved his smile.
Eddie went full-out and bought three kinds of taffy: root beer, teaberry and molasses. He and Marguerite sat on the pier, legs dangling over the dock's edge. They laughed and told stories, and played with each other's hands in the bag. They finished off all of the taffy in only minutes.
Eddie stared at her face. He took in the soft curves of her lips, the gentle lines of her eyes, the creases in her forehead...
Marguerite laughed, it was a light bell-like sound. "Quit staring," scolded him good-humouredly.
Eddie shrugged, and smoothed his hand over her silky brown hair. "Never," he replied.
They stayed like that for a few long moments, before reality came rushing back at him. He checked his watch; five minutes until show time.
Eddie got to his feet, and reached down to pull Marguerite up. "How about the Ferris wheel?" He knew she loved the Ferris wheel the most, just like he knew most other minor details in her life. It was just how he was; each second he spent with her, he was trying to memorize everything that made her who she was.
Marguerite felt like a small child as Eddie guided her through the crowds, heading towards Ruby Pier's twenty-year-old classic Ferris wheel near the back of the pier. Her heart was pumping joyous blood through her whole body; she was warm with comfort. She wondered what her surprise could be, and when she would know. Honestly, Marguerite was fine with what she had now; a beautiful night, a stomach full of sweet taffy – her new favourite treat – and Eddie. Perfect Eddie.
The Ferris wheel had the most magnificent lights of the entire pier. They went all around, creating a circle of fluorescent brilliance; they were almost like fireworks to Marguerite. She was so transfixed on their glimmer against the dark sky that she almost did not even notice that nobody was riding in it.
Marguerite gave Eddie a flustered look. She did not need words.
"It's all yours."
Eddie was so delighted with himself that he shifted from one foot to the other, almost in a bouncing matter. Marguerite's eyes just lit up like flashlights in the dark. Her mouth was agape, her supple lips in the shape of an O. For minutes, she just gazed up at the Ferris wheel, her hand clutching her heart. She would occasionally whisper, "For me?"
He would always reply, "All for you."
Eddie had worked and been around Ruby Pier long enough to know many people, and knowing many people, meant getting special privileges. He had convinced Tom, the main ride operator, to let him rent the Ferris wheel for the night for a very small price; it was all really no big deal at all.
People always say that it is the thought that counts when giving gifts. But Eddie wanted to give Marguerite more than the thought of having her own Ferris wheel; he wanted her to feel it, to have it, for at least one night.
When Marguerite was finished with silence at the amazement of the Ferris wheel, she turned to Eddie, her eyes glistening with unfallen tears. "This is the best gift anyone has ever given me," she told him truthfully. Her mind was still racing at the thought and emotion that went into this gift; she felt as though as would fall apart under it all.
Eddie seemed as delighted as she was. "How about we go for a ride?"
Marguerite agreed with an enthusiastic nod.
Once again, Eddie took Marguerite by the hand and led her up the tin steps to sit in the Ferris wheel's cart. He did not let go when they settled down together in the blue and yellow seat. He could feel her enthusiastic pulse in her palm.
Tom tipped his baseball cap at the couple as he strapped them in. "Have a good ride, folks," he said. "Oh – and happy birthday, little lady."
Marguerite blushed as Tom clunked away in his maintenance boots and the ride awoke and came back to life.
Eddie did not say anything as the two of them travelled up and then down, at least a dozen times. He wanted Marguerite to remember everything; from the feeling of too much taffy in her belly, to the warm breeze that brushed their faces as they descended. They would ride as long as they wanted; Tom was content reading a tattered, old paperback, Marguerite was content watching Ruby Pier from the highest point at the pier, and he was just happy watching her.
As their trip up reached the twenties, Marguerite faced him. "Thank you," she managed. Her voice was cracked slightly with emotion. "This is... wonderful."
Eddie brought his index finger to Marguerite's lips, silencing her. "Shhh," he ordered. "You don't need to thank me; you don't need to say anything at all. Just enjoy this. That is all the thanks I need."
Marguerite did what she was told, but not before settling her lips against Eddie's.
It was a gentle kiss, but it was dressed with so much love Eddie could almost taste it.
When she pulled away, she smiled. He reflected her, like a mirror. That was one of Eddie's amazing qualities; he was content if she was.
Eddie draped his arm around Marguerite.
Marguerite studied the pier once again as they continued their endless circles.
From the ground beneath them, Tom contemplated the scene that looped around right next to him. He stroked the salty scruff on his chin and chuckled. "Kids these days." He shook his head, and went back to his novel.