Just for the Summer
Written for the FicPics Summer Memories Challenge.
She rolled into town with the county fair, and when she left, my heart fell into despair.
It was one summer week of bliss. Her playful laughter lighting a place in my heart that had long been kept in darkness. No one had been able to pull me out of my depression after my wife passed away, but this girl, with her old chucks and long, unkempt hair brought some life into my dead soul.
A couple of guys drug me to the annual event, wishing to keep with tradition, despite the heartbreak I was still dealing with. They plied me with cheap beer and pushed me out the door. I was determined to have a miserable time, seeing Sarah's haunting form everywhere I turned.
She had adored carnivals. The flashy lights and infectious amusment.
My buddies tried their damnedest, but were unsuccessful. I was here damn it. They didn't have to make it their mission to make sure I wasn't lonely on the weekends. I actually preferred it, the solitude.
It kept her memories close, but Bella made them almost disappear.
I remember when I first laid eyes on the brown eyed beauty. She was manning a booth in the corner, making a racket with her attempt to gain attention to her booth. She surely grabbed mine.
"Don't be a puss, this is child's play. My Grandma can do better than that! A dollar more for another shot?"
She had a fire to her; something about her drew a moth to the flame. I asked my friends if they wanted to throw around a few balls, but they were eager to jump in line for the newest coaster this year, Hot Rod.
I waved them off, and with hands in pocket, I walked over. I didn't know exactly what I was going to do, but I couldn't stay away.
I was drawn to her.
When I reached her booth, she actually ignored me at first. There was only one other patron, a drunk teenager set on impressing her it seemed.
As if he actually stood a chance.
I don't know what it was about her; she seemed Gypsie-like in her lifestyle. She had to be if she traveled with the carnival. They never stayed in one place too long, drifting county to county. Maybe that was the appeal. She wasn't someone who I saw as someone who could pierce my armor and dig her nails into my heart.
But at the end of the week, she proved to do just that. How naïve I was.
"Ugh, one more chance? Come on…" The boy begged, but she wasn't hearing it.
"Nope, nothing comes free. Either pay and play, or walk away."
The kid grumbled a bit more, and made it look like he was digging in his pockets for spare change before finally giving the act up.
"I could buy a hundred of those from Wal-Mart anyway. Pshhh." He walked away, kicking dirt in his path.
Obviously, he was a sore loser.
Maybe I'd get luckier.
When she turned and finally acknowledged me, she brightened her smile and warmly welcomed me.
"Hi there, handsome. Want to give it a shot?" She indicated to her basket of baseballs on the table.
I don't know what made me say it, but I felt a little freer under her gaze, and I suppose with some beer under my belt, I was feeling daring.
"I win, and you have to go on a date with me," I challenged her.
Her eyes widen in surprise, and she gave a shocked chuckle. "My, aren't you bold. You sure you wouldn't rather take an oversized Scooby Doo home to snuggle up with?"
She hadn't outright said no, so I relaxed a bit and egged her on more.
"Scooby Doo has nothing on you. Just dinner, that's all I'm asking."
Her features sobered as she thought it over.
"Honey, I'm not exactly your type of woman. Unless, you make it a habit to seek out Carnies?"
I could tell she was trying to lighten the mood while she gave me a look over.
Behind her eyes, I saw something. I'm not sure, but I recognized a trace of desire.
"Nope, you're my first carnie. You game?"
"Alright, Mr. Handsome, you've got a deal, but let's up the ante. Instead of knocking down five bottles, you have to hit 10 in a row. Think you can handle it?"
After that first throw, the rest was history. She didn't stand a chance. Though, to be fair, I probably should have warned her that I was first string pitcher in high school.
That night changed my life, and I never thought I'd ever feel again after Sarah, but this carnie was something altogether more. Sarah would never be replaced, but I felt my heart making room for Isabella Swan.
We went out to an all-night diner after she was off for the night, and every night for the rest of the summer. For one week, we were inseparable.
I knew it was too good to be true. She was a drifter for a reason, running from her own personal demons that I didn't know anything about. I hadn't even told her about Sarah, not wishing to waste time with the past. Not when our time in the present was so limited.
When the week came to a close, we spent the entire night before making love every which way. I held her tight, scared to let her go. I was reluctant to go back to a life where she didn't exist.
"Shhh, there's always next year, handsome," She cooed, running a hand through my hair.
The next morning when I woke, she was gone. I drove to the fairgrounds hoping to have a last word, but they had already torn down the rides and booths, moving on to their next destination.
I wanted to fall deeper into despair, but the promise of next year kept me going.
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