There Wouldn’t Be A Third by Nicole Rivas

March 21, 2013 Comments Off on There Wouldn’t Be A Third by Nicole Rivas

Heath Lipscomb was splattered with the vomit of someone we couldn’t see. We had only been on the Ferris wheel for eleven seconds. Underneath the ride was a rickety pier, and underneath the pier were the cool, brown waters of the Pacific Ocean.

“Oh, Heath,” I said, scooting into the opposite corner of our compartment. “Don’t open your mouth.”

Heath closed his eyes tightly as the puke dripped down his forehead. There were pieces of kettle corn in it. He groaned from behind pursed lips, which were blue from raspberry licorice and from holding his breath.

“Can’t we turn this around?” I yelled down to the carnie. “He’s covered in puke.”

As our cage continued its ascent into the thin, salty sky, I looked down and saw the carnie opening the gate and tearing tickets for new passengers.

“I’m so sorry, Heath,” I said. “We should be back down in a minute. Here, let’s use this bandana.”

I untied the handkerchief wrapped around Heath’s backpack strap and used it to wipe off his face. He tried to open his eyes but the lashes were stuck together. He groaned again.

At the top of the Ferris wheel, the horizon was visible and the color of a melting Big Stick. Truth be told, it looked like it always had — lots of pretty oranges, and a warm bleariness that was both breathtaking and depressing.

Heath Lipscomb didn’t experience any of this. I looked over at him, and remembered the bland hotdogs he had treated me to for lunch. He didn’t look much different than processed meat — pink and smooth. It had been an okay second date. But there wouldn’t be a third.

After we got off the Ferris wheel, Heath ran into the ocean to wash himself off. While he was in the water, I wrote a thank-you note in the sand to the person who had puked on him. When I was done, I took a big scoop of wet sand in my palm and sifted it through my fingers. There was a small sand crab in there, which I placed on my knee to feel it wriggle off in annoyance. I erased the note with my foot and watched Heath shivering as he walked back onto the beach. I scooped up some more sand and another crab.

“What’s that?” Heath asked.

“A sand crab,” I said, putting my palm out.

“Disgusting,” Heath said, and then he smacked my wrist. The sand crab flew into the surf, disappearing forever. The Ferris wheel groaned as the carnie hosed it off. One way or another, we had all suffered.

© 2012 Nicole Rivas

Nicole Rivas received her BA in English from California State University, San Bernardino. Her fiction has appeared in The Pacific Review and Thickjam.

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