Soon, we’d arrived at her destination. There was not only a giant ferris wheel that dominated the skyline, 150 feet or so in height alone, but also a carousel, a miniature golf field and a funhouse. But the ferris wheel definitely stole the show, no doubt about it. I gazed at it in awe, aware that my jaw was hanging open but not even caring about it.
Elisabeth turned to face me, her pale blond hair caught on a sudden gust of wind. It fluttered around her head like a halo.
“Welcome to Navy Pier. This is one of my haunts.” Her voice was almost stolen by the wind and I had to lean down to catch it. Doing so, I inadvertently breathed in her scent. She smelled like violets and cigarettes. A heady scent, a paradox of smells.
The next thing I knew, Elisabeth was pulling me towards the ferris wheel. “Come on,” she urged, “the lines are insufferable on Friday nights. I want to make sure we get a cart to ourselves.”
She was right. The line to ride the ferris wheel was long. It took an hour, but it was worth it.
The truth was that I was a little nervous about getting on the ferris wheel. Not because of Elisabeth, though I confess she did rattle my senses a bit that first night, and would continue to do so for the rest of our short time together. No, it was because I am deathly afraid of heights. Just getting onto that cart and feeling it sway as it began its ascent made my knees turn to jelly.
“You cold, Nick?” she asked, mistaking my chattering teeth for the chill.
“Y-Yeah. Must be ‘cause I’m from Hotlanta. I’m not used to this cold.”
She playfully punched me with her good hand. “Wait until January or February rolls around. Then you’ll really know what cold is.”
Elisabeth was sitting next to me in the cart and I had to turn my head to look at her. I carefully avoided looking down below, trying to focus on her face instead. We’d managed to get a cart all to ourselves, despite the fact that it normally sat 6 passengers.
“Soon you’ll know why this is my favorite place,” she sighed.
So I did. I stared out into the starless sky, watching the clouds as they raced each other. The moon broke out from her clouds from time to time, a pale and expressionless face that bore mute testimony over us. The cart continued its relentless ascent up into the heavens, going impossibly high. I balled my hands into fists and tried not to break out into a sweat.
“Look down, Nick,” she cried suddenly.
I forced myself to look down, though my eyes were unwilling. But I didn’t want to look like a coward.