By Melissa L. Webb
The rusty gate squeaked loudly, shattering the silence the area offered. Elena cringed as she slipped through, pausing to look around her. The last thing she wanted was to draw attention to herself. She wanted the world to forget she even existed and she couldn’t do that if she gave herself away.
The path before her beckoned, calling her into the overgrown trees which lay beyond. Silence once again filled the air, wrapping the woods like a protective blanket. The metal squeak had changed nothing. She was alone.
She followed the path, her skin soaking up the bright sun. This was a new start for her. No longer would she have to bow down to the strict rules her parents demanded of her. She couldn’t live like that, being the person they wanted her to be. It was killing her. She needed to be free to live her own life. And this was her first step; Conquering her fears.
Elena needed somewhere to stay while she plotted out her next moves. This was the first place that came to her mind. No one would ever look for her here. Everyone knew how terrified she was of the place.
But this was the new Elena. An Elena who wasn’t afraid to be out on her own and the old abandoned amusement park north of town would serve as her haven in her time of need.
Plastic eyes stared out of the trees at her as she neared what was left of the midway. She shivered at the sight of the forgotten creatures as they silently welcomed her to their world. She pulled her eyes away, determined not to scare herself already. Fiberglass and plastic couldn’t hurt her and that’s all this place was. A hollow echo of happiness gone by.
She kept moving forward. The rusty spokes of the Ferris wheel poked out of the trees above her. The empty seats swayed slightly in the breeze. She ignored it, moving forward, looking for a shelter of some kind. A small building stood past the skeletal remains of the bumper cars. Pulling the flashlight from the backpack she was carrying, Elena went inside.
It had been a diner in the park’s heyday. Dirty booths surrounded the long bar separating the kitchen from the dining area. A broken jukebox stood in a corner like a refugee from the end of the world. Looking around, she realized all her fear was gone. How could she be afraid of something that had been so welcoming in its day?
Tossing her backpack on a damaged table she headed further in, exploring the forgotten place. She saw a door to the left. She pulled it open and stepped in, shining the light around. The door closed with a gentle click and she stood there in shock. She was in a bathroom. A perfectly clean, well-lit bathroom.
Shutting off the flashlight Elena looked around her. How could this be? There was no way this one room could have power. She quickly turned and pushed open the door, nearly knocking over some woman.
“You should be more careful, dear,” the woman said before disappearing into the bathroom.
Elena stood there, staring at the busy diner. Around her, customers waited for their food and servers hurried about. Music wafted from the perfect jukebox adding just the right ambiance.
“Order up!” a cook called from the kitchen.
She shook her head slightly as she watched him, trying to free herself from this delusion. What was going on here? She walked over to the door and peered out. Laughter filled the air as she took in the crowded midway. All the rides were in motion, their lights twinkling brightly. She was now standing in the middle of a running amusement park.
Stepping back into the diner, she returned to the empty booth with her backpack. She slid in, trying to make sense of everything.
“There you are. I was beginning to wonder where you went,” a waitress spoke, sliding a plate of food in front of her.
Elena stared at the burger and fries. Her stomach growled loudly at the sight of it.
The waitress laughed. “Sounds like someone’s hungry. When’s the last time you had something to eat?” she asked, setting a malted milkshake next to her plate.
“It’s been a while, I guess.”
“Well, eat up, sugar. There’s more where that came from.”
Elena looked up at her. “Thank you,” she spoke softly.
“It’s my pleasure. Did you give any thought to what I said?”
“What you said?” she asked around a mouth full of fries.
“Yes. About you working here? We don’t get too many people like you in here. I think you could really liven up the place. What do you say?”
Elena bit into the burger, marveling at the juiciness of it. This place was better then she could have ever hoped for. A life here would be awesome. She could be something new, something better. Just like this park. It could be a life of second chances. “Sure. You have yourself a new waitress,” she told her and settled back, enjoying her first taste of her new life.
© 2011 Melissa L. Webb