Evelynn appeared when I was twelve. At first, she seemed harmless. She even gave me a strawberry popsicle. She told me she’d be my friend when times were tough, but I think she was lying.
Dad says he sees her too, mostly when he’s bent over the kitchen table with piles of bills in front of him.
Mom sees her when the birds come out to play. Evelynn tries to scare mom even more by showing her images of birds in her hair, pecking out her eyes.
But Evelynn comes more often to see me.
Evelynn never wants my popcorn. Although I offer it to her when she meets me on the Ferris wheel seat, she shakes her head no. This is her favorite spot to meet me, touching the twinkling stars of a watery sky, or at least that’s what she says. I wish she’d take my popcorn. Its caramel, my favorite, and she would like it because she looks just like me.
But today she only says, “No. I might choke.”
Her eyes glow green and wicked like the wolves in my mother’s stories. And then I see a flicker of red in them from the lights below, glowing between the tents and food trucks selling funnel cakes. For a moment, the smell swirls up towards us, millions of miles above in the sky.
But instead of burnt sugar, I smell smoke.
My paper bag of popcorn plummets onto laughing heads below. I grip the bar with my sticky fingers as a nauseating taste mixes with the salty-sweet coating on my tongue. The fire roars, but it is inside me now. Big beads of sweat drip into my eyes.
And Evelynn, she’s still there, sitting right beside me and giggling into the warm air.
I wish she’d go. Things always get worse when she arrives. Like the time she appeared
at the cliffside at the lake and threatened to push me off into the water, or the time she told me
I’d poison myself if I brushed my teeth. She’s the best at putting irrational thoughts into my head.
“The lights!” Evelynn screams. “They’re glowing so hot. They’re going to burst like fireworks and catch the tents on fire. And then we’ll be stuck up here. To burn.”
Evelynn’s right. The people are screaming now. Balloons float past us with singed strings.
The seat squeaks on rusted joints as Evelynn jumps to her feet. She grabs the top bar and rocks us. Foreword. Back. I’m holding on for dear life. We’re riding a wild rocking horse now, one with a wooden saddle, slick with greasy fingerprints and chipped paint.
“We’re tumbling! Tumbling!” she chants madly. “The horse won’t hold us both!”
“Stop it!” I scream at her. “I’m going to fall!”
My heart pounds. The pounding is so intense that I can feel it in the bottom of my feet. The world spins. I feel the tickling of the ants, then. How can ants get all the way up here? But I feel them, burrowing into my skin and crawling up my veins. And then I remember. Of course. Evelynn always brings a packet of them. They look like hydrangea seeds, but when she pours them out, they’re always moving.
The joints of the frame of the Ferris wheel groan.
“Look at that!” Evelynn laughs. “The seat is breaking!”
“No,” I barely say the word.
She rocks more. Her curls dance around her face like snakes in the ashy wind.
Evelynn stands on the seat, holding the top bar for balance. She wiggles her finger at me.
“All it takes is one,” she jumps, “little,” she leaps again, “jump.”
At her final word, the seat flies off its hinges. My fingernails bleed. They’re full of splinters now. They won’t catch me. Those little fingers…always scratchy and dry and full of bitten nails. They were never strong enough before. Why would they save me now?
I hold onto the edge of the seat, the rest of my body dangling above the flames. Soon I will be a blackened corpse alongside all that scattered popcorn.
“You’re going to fa-all!” Evelynn straddles the top bar, leaning until she dangles underneath, looking at me upside down like a bat. “You’re going to break every bone, but first, you’re going to fall. That’s even worse, isn’t it?”
This is just like her. Evelynn always seems to predict exactly what will go wrong, like the time I had to give a speech in class. She said, “You’re embarrassing yourself. You’re saying all the words backwards!” Although my classmates said I did good, I could hardly believe them.
My fingers slip.
But wait. What is that? It’s not just me hanging helplessly from the bar now. There is a bug. A beetle, maybe. He flutters his wings, and when he parts them, his body glows. Like a piece of sunshine he’s swallowed.
Look at this firefly riding with me. What would it be like to be him? A bug. Living a simple life where humans are giants, and this seat, and the bars, are just another big plant, a flower maybe, he’s going to explore. He just exists, breathing the same air as me.
Breathing little firefly breaths.
Like I breathe now.
The firefly buzzes away. I look up and around. There is no fire. I’m safe on the Ferris wheel seat.
Evelynn is gone.
For a short time, I’m alone. There is no doubt she’ll come again. She’ll probably meet me at home in the dark of my bedroom and tell me there are spiders in the blankets. She’ll make me feel anxious and restless all the way until tomorrow night when we’re here again, on the Ferris wheel. I can’t help the tears that come.
Anxiety, you’re a tragedy.
And you’re terribly real to me.
Megan Amor is a college student who has been writing for 17 years. She loves being the magician of her own worlds and living through fictional characters and fairytales. She spends her time writing, eating licorice, buying strawberry scented candles, binge reading, and snuggling with her dog, Iroh.