When you said, “If you make me go on the Ferris wheel I’m going to jump when we get to the top,” I thought you were joking.
Marlin M. Jenkins


sleeping-giant-1392552-sIt’s when I realize there will be no way to hide how wet my pants are from this seat that you stand and look down, trembling, and I can’t decide between saying what are you doing? and wait, you were serious? and hold on, it’s going to be ok. You move your eyes oddly, contorting and scrunching your eyelids like when you’re tired or nervous or scared or all three. Like before, you say I hate myself and I say I love you and you don’t respond like I hadn’t responded to mentions of ropes and razors and how you say you identify so much with Plath.

When you lean over, the carriage tipping, tipping until it whips back, I feel I’ve forgotten how to scream. You hit a beam and your leg cracks. You tumble to the ground, your red hair covering your face on the pavement right next to the line for the ride.

* * *

When you stand up next to me in the carriage of the Ferris wheel, you say it’s going to be ok. I don’t know if you mean my wet pants or what’s about to happen next or something from before—something you were thinking but didn’t share with me.

Before you topple over the carriage’s edge you make eye contact with a man on the ground I’ve never seen. You float down like a cartoon character holding a parasol. He catches you and in his arms I either assume or imagine you are unharmed.

* * *

Instead of falling down from the top, you sprout wings and fly—not angel wings, black ones like a raven’s, and you don’t look back at me before you pass the dragon mini-coaster, disappear over the tilt-a-whirl.

* * *

When you say it’s going to be ok I don’t hear you at first. You’re standing and the wind from this high up is blowing your hair into your face, away from me. But you repeat it and I say I love you or I love you even if you don’t love yourself or I love you, even if you don’t know how to love yourself, because I mean it and because I don’t know what else to say except some version of this.

When you jump, I reach and catch you with one arm, holding you here as you dangle. I decide I will hold you forever if I have to. I will keep the eyes that have locked onto us facing upward; I won’t let them all pan down to the asphalt, won’t let their heads bow in unison. I will keep this carriage steady and keep you in my grip. I will pretend that me holding you here at the top of the Ferris wheel is enough.

Marlin M. Jenkins was born and raised in Detroit and graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in Michigan. His writings appeared in Midwestern Gothic, Oyez Review, Split Lip Magazine, Old Northwest Review, and elsewhere. Find Marlin online here and @Marlin_Poet.