Fun Fair. Short Story.

Sorry this is late, I couldn’t get access to the site.

Hope everyone had a good weekend.

Pride was fun, marched in the parade, went to a street party or two. Over all pretty awesome day. Though the only downside now is that there is glitter all over my room.

one of my friends brought it and I was apparently under dressed due to lack of anything brightly coloured, so glitter was the obvious and only solution. It’s going to be there for pretty much ever.
I also bought a big-ass rainbow flag. Which is awesome because who doesn’t love giant flags?

On with the show!

_______________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Matt sat behind the desk, watching the streams of people go by. As they went, he made snap decisions, this was the important part. To his left someone called out to passerby, trying to lure them into the fun house, to his right sat Tracy, selling tickets and flipping through her magazine. There had been some down time in the last few days, not that Matt was worried, they always met their quota. A group of men approached, one of them hanging back. Him. That was who Matt wanted. But he couldn’t approach the group, he had to get the boy on his own. Something the boy wouldn’t allow happen. In less than a second, Matt had chosen and discarded a person. The men, teens really, jostled and laughed, paying for their tickets and setting off inside.
A young woman, maybe 24, was wandering past, Matt pressed a small button and the woman paused, looking slightly dreamy, she turned to the stall and made her way over, Tracy didn’t bother looking up, she just gestured to the other window, the one that Matt had just opened. The woman stopped at his window, smiling serenely.
“And how has your evening been?”
“Quite good, I came here myself, get out of the house ya know. Went through a bit of a break up, none of my friends wanted to come here, so I figured why not? Kinda reminds me of being a kid, with my parents. All safe and warm and loved. My dad used to bring me on rides while my mum watched, she’d meet us at the exit, smiling, sometimes holding treats.” The woman’s smile broadened.

“I still have the stuffed animals they won for me. They moved though. A few hours away. I don’t get to see them all that often.”
Matt, smiling, nodded sympathetically. She was just too easy. She prattled on for another few minutes, reminiscing. When she finished, she turned red, a pink flush infusing her cheeks,
“I’m sorry, I don’t know where that came from.” She giggled.

Matt reached for his pile of tickets and pulled one free.
“Here, on the house. Help rekindle some of those memories.”
The woman’s eyes widened, “are you sure?”
“Yeah, go on in, you’ll have a blast.”
Delighted, the woman took the ticket and moved past the ticket booth and inside the fun house. She would have a grand old time, Matt was sure of it. Tracy looked up from her magazine and looked at the tickets.
“How many left for tonight?”
“Just two more. We’ll find them. Don’t worry.”
Tracy closed her magazine and looked at him.
“Don’t you ever feel-” She broke off as a family approached her window, she sold them tickets, uncharacteristically reserved throughout the interaction. She took their money and put it away, then looked at the magazine, weighing her options.
“Don’t I ever feel what?”
“I don’t know…guilty?”
Matt thought for a minute. In the background he could hear screams of wonder, fear, enjoyment.
“No. I don’t think I do. They have a choice. There’s always a choice. I’m not forcing them to go inside. I don’t make any decisions for them once they step through the doors. That’s all on them. Besides. We don’t have a choice, do we? It’s us or them love. I prefer us. Don’t you?”
Tracy looked down, then nodded.

“How much longer do you have?”
“Few years, not that many. I think five. You?”
“Six.”

In two years this was probably the most Tracy had spoken to him outside of any work related business. He longed to ask her that question. The secret that everyone held.

He looked at her sideways, trying to be nonchalant.
“What did you get?”
Tracy looked at him, smiling slightly, “freedom.”
With that enigmatic answer, she turned back to her magazine, the conversation obviously over.

Matt spent the rest of the night thinking about what she had said. He had lied to her after all, they had a choice. Everyone had a choice. They could stop any time they wanted to, sure it wouldn’t end well for them, not at all, but something as selfless as that might knock some time off. Save them eventually. Right? Someone somewhere would note that they had done the right thing, the honourable thing and paid their debt without harming others. Yet here he was, sitting in the booth, night after night.

Matt found three more people that night. Going above his quota again. Maybe he’d get something out of it eventually, some bonus. Tracy hadn’t spoken to him for the rest of the night.

The fairground was in semi darkness, lights still popped and flashed occasionally, but things were winding down, being turned off. Some of the larger ones would be kept on all night, shining beacons in the darkness. Matt moved through the fairground, dodging around rides and stalls until he found his own lodgements, a small, shabby tent that was hidden behind much larger ones. They could have stayed at the nearby hotel if they wished, but Matt liked to be here, in the action. He didn’t have a trailer, none of them did. They could sleep in hotels or in tents, that was their only option. He didn’t know why.

Matt stepped into his tent and walked straight to the bed, there he lay down and closed his eyes. He wouldn’t sleep for a while yet, he was still keyed up from the last ticket he had given away. The young man he had spotted earlier, couldn’t have been older than fourteen, bawling his eyes out. Some things cannot be unheard or forgotten. Matt remembered all of them. Seemed like it was the right thing to do, a duty. He wouldn’t see them again and if he did, they wouldn’t remember him. He didn’t know what their lives were like, what they had gotten, what they had done or would do, but someone needed to mark the passing of their soul, to remember that they were people once, people who had taken a wrong turn. Matt turned over, trying to forget the high pitched sobs, the twin trails of mucous running from the teenagers nose. He shuddered, listening to the noise around him, the ticks of the cooling machines, the rise and fall of the cars going by. Eventually sleep took him and as always it was dreamless, his one mercy.

Matt woke the next morning, feeling slightly tired. He felt better outside, in the fresh air with the sun shinning down on him. His stomach rumbled, he needed to eat soon. He couldn’t stomach anything last night, but now it seemed distant, like a movie he had watched not too long ago. The things he saw, the things he heard, they weren’t real. It was just some script. He walked from his tent, squinting in the morning sun, around him dew glistened on the few remaining blades of grass. Everything looked beautiful in the light, but tonight darkness would return and he’d have to do it all again.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 24 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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