Toni Rendon ’24
The clack of her coal-black heels on the stone echoes through the empty street as the warm breeze passes through her bright blood-red sundress. Her dark, curly auburn hair glistens under the light of the streetlamps. The shadow she casts is her only company, forever growing and shrinking as she walks under the twinkling lights. The solid stone suddenly becomes shifting sand, forcing her to ditch the two inches the heels provided her. At the end of the sand path sits an old boardwalk, its wood traversed by countless feet over the decade, kept in pristine condition, overlooking the ocean. Its deep blue accents are brought alive by the light shining from the moon. The wood feels warm under her smooth foot, leaving her with an overwhelming sense of tranquility. Taking her time to enjoy the walk to her destination, its music reaches her ears before she even catches a glimpse. Around the corner, the carousel is the only thing operating tonight.
The lights fade from red to orange to yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet. The animals carved from wood stand tall on the erect metal poles sticking out of the spinning platform, their paint worn where people have sat for ages. There, he is looking as dapper as ever in the black suit, white shirt, and red tie combo that she loves oh so much. His long chestnut hair has red hints from where the dye grew out; it’s box braided and pulled back neatly into a ponytail, two braids on either side of the head hang loose in the front because that’s his style. He sits upon the lion like the king he is, shoulders squared and ready to face anything the world throws at him. They lock eyes. His are pieces of lifeless porcelain sitting in his chiseled, caramel colored face.
“Emily, I’ve been waiting for you.” His rich voice echoes in her bones. It’s clear even as she loses sight of him as the carousel spins round and round. Each time he comes back into view, he’s perched atop the back of a different animal.
“You look beautiful tonight, are you meeting someone?” he asks with a sly smile from the back of an eagle poised to take flight.
“Yes, actually, I am. I think he’s running a bit late.” She pushes a lock of hair back into place behind her ear. He chuckles; it’s a soft rumble that erupts from his core, wrapping her in a warm feeling that she wishes could stay forever.
“Last time I checked, I’ve been waiting for you,” he replies, disappearing from her eyesight again only to reappear sitting in a chariot drawn by two stallions, one as white as freshly fallen snow and another as black as the vastness of eternity.
“Come here, Emily,” he says, beckoning her closer. “I saved you a spot right next to me.”
She starts to move forward, her feet moving on her own toward the man she loves. The thought of dancing forever with him the way the animals on the carousel go round and round entices her, welcomes her. But she hesitates ever so slightly, knowing that what could be shouldn’t always be.
“Victor, I can’t…” she says, her eyes beginning to moisten. “You know I want to, but I can’t. What about everyone else?”
“What about them?” he says, this time from the back of a snake carved to forever be poised in an attack position. “What have they done for you? They left you alone, they look at you crazy, like I’m not talking back whenever you talk to me.” His eyes are closed, teeth bared. It scares her to her core. She hates when he gets like this.
“Victor, calm down. It’s not their fault. I would look at me crazy, too.”
“It’s—it’s—it’s just unfair. It’s not your fault. You shouldn’t have to take the backlash just because I left.” Tears well up in the corners of his eyes. “I shouldn’t have left you behind. We should be going through this together.” This time he places his arms around her and pulls her in. “Emily, I—”
“Shut up, you’re ruining this for me,” she says, looking up at him.
Tears run down his blood-soaked face, the cuts on his face a reminder of the car crash that stopped him from showing up for dinner two years ago.
“Don’t cry, my dear,” she says. “It’ll be okay. We couldn’t have planned for this.” She wipes the tears from his face.
“I’m not crying, Emily; can’t you see the rain?” he whispers back as he fades into nothing, leaving her all alone.
About ten minutes pass before Emily erupts, crumbling and falling to the ground, her sobs penetrating the warm night air. Some time goes by before she decides to collect herself, standing up and dusting herself off. She looks out to the horizon, its light bathing her in hues of orange and pink.
“I’ll see you soon, Victor,” she whispers.