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Chapter 1: Short Story
The fair was interesting, to say the least: old, rickety fun houses lined along one side, painted with fading neon colors and peeling on the sides; the Tilt-A-Whirl and Bobsled issued screams every few seconds that could be heard piercing across the fairground; a row of cramped, white kiosks sold pale lemonade and sugary cotton candy; the ferris wheel stood, the center of attraction, blinking its garish blue and yellow lights in the chilly night.
We stood at the entrance to the fairground, taking all this in. Finally, I looked up. "Hey, let's go do something!"
He hugged my waist. "Okay, like what?"
"Let's try the fun house!" I smiled playfully and led the way to a huge room filled with crazy mirrors.
"Hey, Anna, look how fat I am!" He laughed at his extremely short, extremely round reflection. I pulled out my digital camera and snapped a picture. After almost twenty minutes of getting pictures in every mirror, with bunny ears or tongues sticking out, we turned to leave, only to find our way blocked by a huge clown with a sign pointing "THIS WAY." We went around to the small hallway to leave, but found it wasn't small at all, and it wasn't a hallway: it was dozens of mirrors arranged in a maze. Zach had been right behind me, but suddenly I felt two hands cover my eyes. I stretched my arms out groping around, but a deep voice whispered in my ear, "Bet I can beat you out!" I froze, slightly stunned at the soft tickle of warm breath next to my neck, when he quickly spun me around three times. When I opened my eyes, all I saw were hundreds of reflections of myself.
"Zach! I'm gonna get you!" I shouted. I heard him laugh, but I couldn't tell which direction it came from. I had always loved his laugh--it was what first got my attention in the hallway at school. I had been pleasantly surprised to find such a cute guy attached to it.
I stretched my arms out, wandering aimlessly and continuously running into mirrors. After almost ten minutes of pure torture from running into walls and hearing Zach laughing at me (how could he see me?) I found the exit. Well, not quite. It was some rusty, rickety stairs that seemed to lead to the roof. I slowly climbed into the fresh air. As I took the last step onto what was, indeed, the roof, something behind me grabbed my waist and picked me up, spinning me around.
"Holy cow, Zach!" I shouted indignantly. He laughed again.
"C'mere, let me show you something." He led me down another flight of stairs back toward the mirrors. But I realized, I couldn't see myself. I was just in a big room full of people, half of them laughing, half of them squinting at nothing and moving very slowly around the middle of the room. They were all one-way mirrors. "No worries, you were by far the funniest." Zach furrowed his brows and let his jaw hang slightly open, and waved his arms wildly in front of him. I slapped his arm, kind of embarrassed that he had seen the whole thing, but determined not to let him know that. He grinned and led me out a side door, back into the fairground. "Wanna ride the ferris wheel?"
I sad "Okay," before I really thought about it. I'm deathly afraid of heights. Deathly, as in, I can't look out third-story windows without my heart racing. But a tiny voice inside whispered, It's okay, Zach's with you, you'll be fine. I hoped it was right.
We bought cotton candy to eat while we stood in line. Zach ate half the bag in about five minutes, and wanted a picture of us with our blue tongues. Finally it was our turn to get on. The man helped us into our seat, pulled the bar down and started the machine again. I tried not to look down, but quickly realized that staring at the people below us seemed to help. We made two or three revolutions, and I found that heights really weren't so bad at all--as long as someone was talking the whole time. Zach was in the middle of a story about his science class when the ferris wheel stopped. I felt a wave of panic wash over me. "Why'd we stop?" I was frozen in my seat.
"They're just starting to let people off, it'll start back in a second. Anyway, so Chris fished the turtle out of its tank and stuck it on Mr. McHugh's desk..." Zach finished his story, and I forgot the ferris wheel as I laughed. It soon started up again, and this time we stopped on the front, right where the car hangs off the edge and you can't see the rest of the ferris wheel; you feel like you're suspended in midair. Zach chose this opportune time to tease me: "You know, this ferris wheel is kinda old... thirty years at least, I'd say..." He grinned like a little kid and began to swing the seat. I could hear the machine creaking as the seat rocked back and forth.
"Zach! Holy cow! I hate you! Cut it out!" But I was laughing. It wasn't as scary as I thought it would be. He laughed maniacally, and I hugged his arm and screwed my eyes shut, still grinning, but still yelling "Stop!" After a few seconds, I felt the wild shaking turn into a gentle swaying, and his body stopped moving. Still squeezing his arm, I looked up to see his face softer, smiling, and he gently pulled his arm away and put it around my shoulders. I snuggled up to his chest, under his arm, and closed my eyes again as he relaxed next to me. The ferris wheel moved again, and shuddered to a stop a second later. I opened one eye to peek at the fairground far beneath us. Suddenly, I felt a slight pressure under my chin and raised my head to look at Zach, his eyes wild, yet gentle.
"I know we haven't even been dating a month, but can I...?"
He trailed off, but I knew what he was thinking before he even opened his mouth. I closed my eyes and leaned toward him, and our lips touched for just a second, just long enough to send a spark coursing through my body. I opened my eyes, and he stared straight into them and whispered, "Still hate me?"
I smiled and shook my head. "How am I supposed to hate the first guy I've ever kissed?"