July 13th: Carnival Reunion

I heard the car leave in the early morning. My curtains were open and daylight was already turned on, albeit still blotted with nighttime. I watched with half-awake eyes as my father, bloated hockey bag in hand, left the house, slammed the car door, and sped off.

When I was eighteen years old, I was at the fair with my girlfriend; a pretty little thing with stringy blonde hair and a frail oval face, pale and translucent and gentile. We were hand in hand, our free hands clutching ice cream cones, glistening and melting in the hot noon sunshine. We both had droplets of milky green and pink on our toes. We walked towards the carnival games and I saw my father there. He was tossing weathered baseballs at a pyramid of green glass bottles, under the watchful eye of a girl of about eleven of twelve. I stopped in my tracks and my girlfriend glanced at me. Sorry, I told her, and we kept walking. I walked right past him and stared into his eyes as I walked. His pupils were focused on the game and the girl who accompanied him, who had his same nose and his dingy-coloured, curly hair, was tugging at the bedraggled hem of his shirt. She caught my eye and looked, her mouth slightly agape, at my face.

What’s wrong, my girlfriend asked.

I’m fine, I told her as I exchanged a wad of change to a man in a candy stripe shirt for a handful of tossing rings. Just fine. I glanced back at my dad for a second, who was still throwing baseballs, his feet planted on the ground, un-yielding. The little girl continued staring at me with wide, familiar eyes.


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