Excitement bubbled up inside, making me tingle all over as the car slowed, approaching the fair. It was summer, and the beach was buzzing with activity.
“You get out here, Jodie, I’ll park the car,” said Ariana.
I waited for her to park the car nearby, holding onto my straw hat as I am buffeted by the ocean breeze. The long pink ribbon tied around the rim trailed down my back to the back of my bare legs, tickling me. I was too small, too short, for this hat and its paraphernalia, but Ariana was allowing me to wear her favourite hat for the day. I just couldn’t take it off!
Ariana soon returned to take me by the hand and lead me into the fair. I was too old for holding hands, but it was my birthday and my sister was going all out to entertain me today—I was happy for her attention, even if it meant playing the baby sister for one more day.
But when I turned the corner and saw the food and market stalls, and all the artists, performers – even a petting zoo with donkey rides! – I was no longer ‘almost a teenager’, but a little wide-eyed girl! Just beyond the fairy floss and hot dog stands, there was an artist working on the pavement, blending red and blue pigments carefully with her fingers. As we approached her, I could more clearly see the magical art of a silvery unicorn, with a twisted violet horn coming to life. It captivated me. The artist wiped her hands on her apron from time to time, leaving purplish marks.
“Want to ride a donkey, Jodie?” Ariana’s voice was a whisper in my ear. I looked up into her face curiously. Yes, I loved animals, but wasn’t I a little old to ride a donkey? Ariana’s hopeful expression reminded me I wanted to make her happy, especially today. Especially if it meant only one more day of being carefree together before she left home for the big city life. Then there will be no more outings with my big sister, no more holding hands—I would be a teenager next time I saw Ariana, and she a proper grown-up. Ariana was leaving to live a life I only imagined. She would become an icon with her talent. She was already my idol—funny, beautiful, talented—the world was hers. I wondered when it would be mine.
As small as I was for my age, I mounted a donkey, along with younger children, without a raised eyebrow. The long ribbon of my hat tickled the donkey’s rear, and it bucked a little, scaring me! But Ariana’s laughter brushed my fear aside, reminding me all this would end soon enough. Her laughter was always contagious, and soon mine intermingled with hers, a harmonious melody wafting out to the horizon.
Childhood was over the next time I spent the day with Ariana.
After all, it is just a splash in the ocean of time.
© Josie Kirkwood 2020
Previously published in ‘P.S. I Love You’ on Medium 24 April 2020. Revised 18 July 2020.
Flash Fiction is very short fiction, usually between ~300 and ~1500 words. Sometimes written to a prompt and tight deadline, these stories provide creative challenges. They also provide opportunities to write in different genres and can inspire a longer piece of fiction.