“Oneida, I wish you wouldn’t torture yourself this way. Come back with me.” Del held out long, skeletal fingers toward the diaphanous waif that he loved with all his heart, that is, if he still had one.
“Just a few more minutes. I like to hear their laughter.”
“We have laughter, too. It just takes a bit of adjustment.”
“I know.” She continued to stare wistfully at the people being whisked about on the rides. “You’ve told me before.” She turned towards him, a quizzical look on what was once her face. “How long has it been?”
“Since you arrived? Barely a decade, my love.”
“A whole ten years since I…” She looked down at the ground, littered with empty soda cups, cigarette butts, and bits of cotton candy.
Del took Oneida’s hand in his, being careful to touch very lightly so their essences would merge rather than pass through one another. “We’ve only just begun our…time together.”
She looked up, smiling wanly. “You were going to say ‘life,’ weren’t you?”
“Even after centuries, the old words still sometimes come out. I’m sorry if I hurt you.”
“We’re beyond hurt, remember?”
“I know that all too well, but even though we are without flesh and blood, we still have feelings.” Del concentrated and then successfully put his arms around her. She was still attempting to master the art, and her head, sank a few inches inside his chest when she had meant merely to rest upon it.
“You are so good to me.”
He pulled away and took her hand again. “Come on. We came here to have some fun, but not with them. They’re still too alive.” He laughed as he tugged her playfully along with him.
Giggling, she asked, “Where are we going, Del?”
“They have their carnival and we have ours. Accompany me, my dear departed Oneida, to the dead’s own dark carnival. We have an eternity to share.”
For some reason, whenever I see an image of a circus or a carnival (or even rides at Disneyland), I always think of the dead. Some time ago, I did write a story about a little girl on a ride who suddenly found herself sharing it with a little girl ghost. I suppose this is somewhat similar and all too derivative, but it’s where the muse led me today.