Maine

Day and Night People at the Unattended Carnival

In Maine in the summer, there’s a carnival or country fair pretty much every weekend. Blank fields sprout tents like mushrooms. Rides land like flying saucers overnight.

Even in daylight, there’s something creepy about an unattended carnival.

The rides seem to be drowsing, like big cats, ready to spring to life at any moment. You get the sense that a misplaced step, a magic word, will set the whole thing in motion.

You are almost certainly being watched. The carnies go about their work quietly, but you can see them moving among the machines. At least, you hope it’s them.

On the Carousel, Lucinda found a horse that was just her size. I tried not to imagine the giant rooster coming to life. It would be angry after all those years running in circles for children.

In darkness, the carnival takes on a new life. But it’s an artificial one, called into motion by calliope music and blinking lights. It will die when they do.

The games and the rides all call to you, saying isn’t this jolly, isn’t this fun. Don’t worry, everything is fine. No need to think. You can stay here as long as you like. Stay forever. We don’t mind.

But perhaps the strangest thing about an unattended carnival, is the people you may meet there.

 

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