Saturday, August 29, 2009

My August Writing Prompt "First Date"

First, I'm horrible at titles. So I stick with the simple kind. Second, if you have no idea what this is, go here for Augusts writing prompt. It's fun! You should give it a try. Thirdly, here is my hook for this prompt:

Chelsea loves everything about Glenview's annual carnival: the scents, the tastes, the colors and sounds...but when she finds out she might get stood up on her first ever date, she begins down a path of self-pity that might just repell her from her favorite pasttime forever.


The flashing lights, the mingled smells of popcorn, cotton candy and kid sweat and the mechanical sounds of rides and hysterical screams always brought a smile to Chelsea’s lips. The best time to join in on the fun was at night, when the lights blazed hot pink, cobalt blue and neon green, blinking and swirling along the shapes of rides and games.

Chelsea, come on!” Her little brother tugged her arm. She wondered if he knew by now pretending to be Mr. Incredible wasn’t needed. Not here. Not ever. This place was her place. She belonged to it more than it belonged to her.

Chelsea glided along willingly in her black ballet flats, taking in the glorious environment of Glenview’s annual carnival. Aside from being the perfect autumn night—with swishing trees bordering the crowded lot—it was also perfect for her first date.

Justin let go with an excited screech and bolted through a group of giggling girls to the Spinacker. Chelsea let her arm flap to her side, realizing she was a few game booths away from the carousel.

“I’ll be at the carousel!” she hollered after Justin. His wild wave was the only sign he’d heard her. As ADD as her brother was, it didn’t surprise her that he’d abandoned the ride idea and stared astonished at a group of clowns juggling torches. Clowns. Torches. Fire. Only in Glenview.

She took her time down the pavement littered with popcorn kernels and torn tickets, inviting in all the scents, sounds and flavors whirling around her. The clackety-clack of the miniature roller coaster, the ding-ding of the Hammer game when someone won . . .

“Cotton candy?” A white faced, red nosed, rainbow froed clown stared her down with googly black rimmed eyes.

She didn’t like clowns much, and this guy looked like one big freak of one. But she couldn’t turn down the idea of having a piece of that cloudy heaven that was cotton candy. Digging in her jean Capri’s, she paid the clown for a glob of purple fluff. Picking at it, she made it to the sparkling horses and waited. Brandon had agreed to meet her here, and the longer she stood waiting, the swarm of butterflies in her stomach seemed to expand the whole of her body.

Of course he’d show up. He had to. But what if he didn’t? Chelsea stuffed another piece of cotton candy in her mouth, savoring the rich sweetness as it melted away on her tongue. Wishing it would melt away her anxiety. If he didn’t, then there was probably a good reason. Maybe an emergency at home. Or worse, he’d gotten into an accident. He did just get his license.

Or maybe there was no good reason at all. Maybe he decided she wasn’t good enough, pretty enough, popular enough. She wasn’t at the top of any group in school, simply in the middle with several “friends” from either clique. Brandon wasn’t the It guy by any means, but he was captain of the sophomore basketball team and had a track record that included half of the cheerleading squad and Destiny Major, the Queen Teen of Holly High. That relationship had ended the beginning of the school year, leaving Brandon free for the taking.

Not that Chelsea was the type to take anyone. And it had been his move in the first place, so of course he’d show up. But with her . . . “It never works that way,” she whispered.

Joyful, terrified screams drowned out the music-box song playing at the carousel. Chelsea watched the upside-down fire truck as it swayed the riders side to side. It resembled how her stomach felt right about now. Below, a group of boys clambered around trying to collect all the loose change falling from pockets above. Chelsea sighed and licked the stickiness from her fingertips. Cotton candy half-eaten, she’d lost her appetite at the thought of Brandon standing her up. It wouldn’t be long before that story would circle through school. Maybe her mom would be cool enough to let her play hooky for a few days.

Chelsea snorted. What a horrible idea. Then it’d be obvious how hurt and embarrassed she’d been. No, if he didn’t show, she’d go to school acting as if she’d never noticed. That her time at the carnival was even better without him. But it would tarnish everything that connected her to this place. Plague it with a black memory she would always remember when visiting. Being stood up on a first date, to Chelsea, was like finding out your Sweet Sixteen--the one you'd been planning, dreaming of, for years--would be cancelled, without a chance of ever having it again. There was only one first date. And Chelsea wasn't sure she could stand never actually experiencing it.


Salvaging her cotton candy seconds before dropping it all together, Chelsea turned with a gasp. “Oh, Brandon, you scared me.” She smiled nervously. She didn’t need to ride a roller coaster to feel the tingling overwhelming every nerve in her body.

He gave a little smirk. “Oh, uh, sorry. So, you wanna ride?” He jerked his head to the white, brown, pink and purple horses in their frozen gallops.

She shrugged. “Sure. Want some cotton candy?”

“The purple kind’s the best,” he said and picked a ball of fluff off before leading her up the stairs. “Sorry I was late. My brother lost the keys so it took us forever to find them.”

They stepped onto the platform, searching for the best horse to take. Some had golden saddles with metallic hair, others with turquoise sashes and bright yellow manes. All had vibrant colors that seemed dimmed by the golden lights of the ride.

In the end, they hadn’t chosen horses at all but a gleaming white carriage with ceramic pink and yellow rose garlands intertwining the border. Chelsea was glad those weren’t the only things intertwining as she looked to her knee at Brandon’s hand in hers. With cotton candy in one hand, and Brandon in the other, Chelsea looked once in the mirror next to her to capture the moment before turning her gaze to the glory that was Glenview’s annual carnival.

“I love coming to this place,” he said. The murmur of the motor started up and the ride moved like time wasn’t a concept.

Chelsea relished the gentle autumn breeze on her face, closed her eyes, and smiled at the newest memory to go along with her record of her nights spent at the carnival. “Me too.”


  1. Nice! This put me on the ride with them: "...the ride moved like time wasn’t a concept."

  2. Very nice. This was a beautifully put together piece.

    It's also a perfect reminder of why I avoid such places.

  3. excellent detail! You had me picturing everything perfectly.


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