Romance Fiction posted August 31, 2012

This work has reached the exceptional level
The view changes at the top

On top of the world


"Hard to believe the amusement park is closing," Maggie said. She couldn't remember a summer going by when she and her best friend, Cary, didn't make their annual pilgrimage here.

Cary grabbed her sleeve and led her to the ancient Ferris wheel. "One last time," he said.

Maggie knew he hated it. Everyone knew he hated it. The Ferris wheel was her favorite ride and his least favorite. She would describe how everything looked while they waited at the top. He would sit beside her, white knuckles wrapped around the safety bar, eyes shut tight.

The old man looked at them as they approached. He'd been running the ride for as long as either could remember. "Stillman," the old man said to Cary. "Time to face your fears."

Without a word, Cary nodded and sat down next to Maggie. As usual he wrapped his hands tightly around the bar.

Maggie reached over and patted his arm. "Are you going to let go this time?"

"Not a chance."

"At least open your eyes."

Cary shook his head, and soft brown waves bounced slightly. She could tell by the set of his jaw that he wasn't even considering it.

"Thirty-four years old and still afraid of a child's ride," Maggie teased. But that was Cary. He never pretended to be something that he wasn't.

They had been friends since grade school and best friends since the start of high school. He knew her strengths and her weaknesses. Cary had been through every relationship she'd ever had. There at the beginnings, then right on down to the usual bitter endings. He was her best friend and her shoulder to cry on. Despite being easy on the eyes, he was still just Cary.

The ride took them to the top. She looked around waiting for the descent when it stopped. She glanced at Cary, noting the tiny beads of sweat that dotted his brow. "Don't panic," she said calmly.

He nodded.

She looked around. It was beautiful from up here. The lights that were strung around the park below were magical looking. "For goodness sake, Cary, open your eyes."

One blue eye fluttered open, then the other.

"This is nice," she sighed. "It's like being on top of the world. I wish this wasn't our last night here."

Cary cut his eyes to look at her. "Could be our best night ever." His look was undecipherable. "I told the guy to stop us at the top."

"You asked to be stopped?"

Cary nodded, then ran a finger around the collar of his t-shirt. "I told him I wanted a few minutes alone with you up here."


"Because you love it up here. Because it's just us. Maggie, I'm not afraid of this ride. I was always afraid you'd see what a fraud I was."

"Cary, I'm not following you."

"Maggie, I love you. I'm in love with you. I've always been in love with you."

"But you never said anything."

"I know, I know. Every time you'd call me and tell me you'd met some amazing guy, I'd swear I was going to tell you how I felt. Then I'd ask you if you were happy and you'd say yes... Well, I couldn't throw that at you."

"Those amazing guys never seemed so amazing after a few weeks."

He smiled, revealing a slight dimple in his left cheek. "I know, thank goodness." He looked at her almost shyly. "When you'd come crying on my shoulder, I'd push those feelings aside and let you heal."

Her heart beat wildly as Cary let go of the bar and leaned towards her, eyes closed as he kissed her. Even though there were no fireworks scheduled for the park that night, Maggie was pretty sure she saw some. The ride started and abruptly ended their first kiss.

Cheeks flushed, they got out of the seat. The old man looked at them and laughed. "Nothing like waiting 'til the last minute, Stillman."

"How did you know?" Maggie asked.

The old man shook his head. "He's been asking me to stop the ride at the top for over fifteen years."

"I'll be right back," Maggie said, standing on her tiptoes to kiss Cary. She turned and disappeared into the crowd.

At last Cary took a breath. He'd never felt so good in all his life. His cell phone rang and he answered it, "Hello."

"Hey," Maggie said when he answered it. "I met the most amazing guy. I can't wait to tell you all about him."

Cary smiled and looked around. He spotted her near the cotton candy cart. "Really, well then I guess you know my next question."

"What's that?"

"Does he make you happy?" Cary whispered the question into the phone.

Maggie was quiet for a moment. "Very happy. But then he always has. I've got a good feeling about this one."

"Me too."

He closed his phone and went over to her. The amusement park really was a magical place. He looked back at the Ferris wheel and for the first time he realized it was his favorite ride. "If I promise to let go, will you ride the Ferris wheel one more time with me?"

"Just promise you won't panic if we stop at the top,"she teased.

Cary slipped his arm around Maggie. "I'm actually looking forward to it."


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