Another response to a Red Dress Club prompt. Hope you enjoy!
“Come on Anna! We’re going to miss it!”
Anna shook her head. Her younger brother, Nathan, loved the Carnival. He would mark the days on his calendar, religiously counting down to his joyous holiday.
This year was special. This year, her brother was big enough to ride the roller coaster. Ana was afraid of roller coasters; their dreadful heights and horrific speeds left her stiff with fright, but she smiled down at him nonetheless.
“The Carnival is 3 days, Nathan! We’re not going to miss anything! Just let me grab my jacket.” His tiny hand pulled away as he rushed ahead to grab her jacket. She grinned as he helped her put it on, rushing about in his excitement.
“Hey, Anna? Why won’t cannibles eat clowns? Because they taste funny!” Anna smiled and Nathan ran to the car.
“Wait a minute, Nathan; let me lock the door!” His face pulled up in frustration at her lack of speed. She sighed and pulled the keys out of her pocket.
The line was long when they got there. Anna thought about asking if Nathan wanted to do something else and come back later, but his determined look told her to shut her lips. Anna studied her brother. His corn silk hair glowed nearly as bright as the sun overhead. His ice blue eyes full of love and focus. His soft features were becoming more defined as the boy grew, strong jaw line and big dimples. So much like Jason she thought, tears threatening as her eyes began to water. Anna blinked them away before Nathan noticed – no need to spoil this for him.
So lost in thought, it took Anna a moment to realize they would be on the next ride. A carnie with a yardstick was walking down the line glancing at the future passengers. She held her breath as Nathan caught his eye.
“Excuse me, young man. Would you step over here please?” The gruff voice sounded pleasant enough, but Anna heard the strain of long hours on his feet. Nathan looked up at her with his shiny blue eyes, a little afraid of the strange man.
“Go on. Step up to him.” Anna said a silent prayer as the gruff carnie held the yardstick behind Nathan’s body. He stood as tall as he could muster. Anna’s face fell when she realized he was two inches below the mark. The Carnie’s tired eyes looked at hers.
“Please sir. He has been waiting on this for years. See, his brother promised him he would take him this year, and well, sir, he passed away this spring.” Anna could see the gruff man’s face soften.
“I lost my brother not too long ago. You’re close enough son, but just this once, ok. I don’t need trouble from the boss man.” He patted Nathan on his head as he continued down the row.
Nathan resumed his place in line, quieter than before. In the silence, Anna began rubbing the scar on her neck in anticipation. She hated roller coasters.
They loaded themselves in the cart. The attendant slid the cool bar down over their laps as Anna closed her eyes in prayer. Nathan leaned over and whispered in her ear.
“Don’t worry Anna. Jason will protect us just like he protected you from that car.” Tears fell down Anna’s face. Jason should be here, not her.
The ride jolted to a start and clinked its way up the hill. As they paused at the top, she looked over at Nathan, his hands gripped so hard on the bar his tiny knuckles were white. Grabbing his hand, she smiled with her tear-stained cheeks and said, “This is for Jason.”
Just then, the cart tipped over the edge, laughter trailing behind.