Short stories

The carnival is over

‘Turn down the volume’ she cried. All she wants to do is rest. There were times when music bought joy into her life. The passion, the emotion. But now, all she asks for is quietness, peace. She wants others to understand but does not explain. Her silence speaks volumes to me, it is loud and unexpected. Hence, when there is a request to turn down the volume, it is not questioned.

She looks at the photo sitting on the wine table in the corner. It may have once been home to bottles of wine, and a random feather from her scarf. It was a sign of good times. But now it is a receptable for photographs. Photographs held tightly by exotic and beautiful frames. Like her unusual feathered scarf that once framed her face. They held memories of when the carnival of her life was in full swing. A photo of her true love, when he was younger. A photo of her with him. They look lovingly at one another. The image tells the story of their love. Anyone looking at the photo would know the depth of their devotion.   

She misses him. Living alone after a lifetime of loving another hits her with the force of forgetfulness. A clever woman, she mystified those around her by writing everything down on her calendar. Her memory only reliant on her ability to read the reminders.

Yet, while her memory is not the same as it was, she does remember him. She looks at the photos from the comfort of her chair. But the clarity that was there months ago, is now missing. She covers one eye and leans forward. Which is the eye that is fading, the left, the right? She swaps hands to solve the puzzle, but all she sees is a blurred image.

It was different 60 years ago dancing in the main street of the Carnival of Flowers in Toowoomba. Every night it was the same. Ruthven Street, in the centre of town, was closed off for several blocks and the carnival began. Flowers, lights, food, wine, music, and song. She could not get enough of it. I stood back and watched them dance. Others did the same. They ignited in others the joy of dance, as the music played on. But that was then. Things are different now.

If only tears would fall. Would she feel better, not so alone? Someone calls in to say hello, but it is not the same. The day he died the carnival was over. She closes her eyes. Sadness covers her like a blanket. She remembers her losses over a lifetime, tears well up in her eyes, but no tear falls.

Too many disappointments, too many times. The tears have dried up and they are now frozen in her memories. There is no warmth in her life. No one to hold her close at night, to take away her fears, or melt her tears. There is no lover to provide cleansing or closure from the heartaches of life. She takes another look at the photographs, left hand, right hand. Still the same blurred pictures. She closes her eyes.

All she has now are her memories. Long gone is the strong pounding of her heart, the day they first met. She remembers the first date, the first embrace, the first kiss. As she remembers a smile creases the smooth skin of her face. For a moment she imagines that he is standing beside her and she places her hand out to the side of her chair to feel his touch.

I walked in on her while she rested, and I took her hand. As I looked closer, I saw a single tear falling down her cheek. It will not be long now. She is ready to say her goodbyes. She loved him; she loved her family. It is her time, her appointed time. Her tears, bottled up for years, will fall once she feels his warm embrace. No, the carnival is not over, the carnival has just begun.

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.


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