by DiVoran Lites
Chapter Twenty Six
”We’d better get back to town, somebody will be missing us,” Aldon said at the end of a dance. He twirled Ellie out and then brought her back into his arms. Taking her hand, he walked her over to the register where he paid the bill. They stopped at the table to leave a tip for the waitress. Once they were in the car, Aldon pressed the electric starter and the engine responded immediately. They looked at each other and grinned.
“No more cranking,” Aldon said.
“This car’s got the moxy.” Ellie felt giddy and carefree as they picked up speed curving down the mountain road. When Aldon shifted into second gear to slow the car, Ellie clapped.
“Saves the brakes,” Aldon looked over at her and nodded. As they left the mountains behind, the road leveled out and he shifted into third gear. Back at the hotel, they discovered that Lia and Enrico were missing, then Ellie remembered Lia’s plan to visit the Tuileries Amusement Park.
“We might as well go on over there,” Aldon said. “We can give them a ride back to the hotel.”
As they approached the park, Ellie gazed at a halo of light beaming from the permanent fairground. She wound down the side window the better to hear the faraway throbbing of a drum. The Ferris wheel, its lights gleaming, rotated against the night sky. Terrified, but delighted screams pierced the atmosphere as a string of roller-coaster cars steamed up one loop and roared down the next.
After Aldon parked, they walked into a thin cloud of dust and the smell of cotton candy. When they came to a shooting gallery, Ellie felt her confidence rise. Now was the time to show Aldon that the lessons he’d given her in spare bits of time had made her into a sharp shooter.
“Step right up! Three shots for a nickel,” the man behind the counter shouted. Aldon gave him money and the two of them started competing for points. They only grew tired of the game when it became obvious that their scores would forever match. Ellie laid down her rifle and the booth tender started shoving stuffed animals into her arms.
“Well done,” Aldon said, patting her on the back. He took some of the animals from her. “Won’t Seraphina be surprised when we get home?” He placed a free arm around her waist. “Let’s go put these in the car so we won’t have to carry them around.”
As they left the parking lot after depositing the toys, Ellie asked if they could go to the merry go round. She hadn’t been on one since she was a child, but recalled it as a happy experience. Aldon bought tickets and they stepped onto the platform just as the carousel music began and the giant machine started to rotate. Ellie sat sidesaddle while Aldon straddled his horse, his feet firmly on the wooden floor which turned with the horses. The various carved animals rose and fell pulling Ellie into a kind of dream as if she were being rocked in a cradle. Soon, tears ran down her cheeks, and yet she had no feeling of melancholy or sadness. The sound of the booming drum, the ragtime piano, and the majestic notes from the steam organ seeped into her heart. She felt as if something inside her was softening and melting, but had no idea what it could be. Perhaps a sort of healing was taking place in her soul. When the merry go round came to rest, Aldon helped her down, and steered her to a bench. He gave her a handkerchief and sat down next to her, holding her hand while she continued to sob.
“Why are you crying?” he asked when the emotional storm quieted.
“I don’t know. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me. In fact, I haven’t felt this happy since I was a child. Isn’t that strange?” She looked up into his face searching for an answer.