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Santa in Summer

By Alexandra W.

     My brother was a toddler. I sported glasses and bangs. My sister was barely double digits. If only I could blow away the haze surrounding this long-ago moment. The foggy memory leaves a lot to be assumed. Although, I remember the car ride was long; longer than any I’ve endured before. I remember it took me years to realize we went out of state for the vacation. In my defense the surroundings were all still pine trees, Maine, New Hampshire, New Hampshire, Maine, there was no difference in my young brain. I barely knew there was a world out there beyond my cartoons and coloring books. 

     As the trees and cars went past the window from my seat in the white van my father drove and music played on the radio. While the ride was what I recounted as a long continuous blur, the arrival is an inkling more vivid in my mind’s eye. My father pulled into a dirt clearing of a trailer park, full of rental RV’s and a playground, right across from the amusement park we came for. The bright colors of the amusement park were what caught my eye and caused my head and body to shift to look out the back window. 

     A big sign adorned the words “Santa’s Village” and a towering, metal ride made to look wooden, the main attraction, the “Log Flume” stood front and center of the amusement park, visible from my position. My little heart leapt with excitement, only later would I learn that we were settling in today and I’d have to wait until tomorrow to venture into that wonderland. 

     I jumped up and down in my seat and plastered my face to the window. I saw other children and families, there just like I was, to do just what I ached to. Some fathers grilled burgers, some mothers sat in a lawn chairs and sipped lemonade, some children ran around, laughing and playing. My father parked. I opened the sliding van door. I hopped out and let my legs stretch. I ran towards the playground but had to return as my mother called my name. I quickly lugged my stuff inside the small, quaint RV we rented for the weeklong excursion.

     “Can I go play?” I asked, yearning for that swing set. I saw it. I wanted it. 

     “Not yet,” my mother said.

     Of course not. 

     My excited mind agonized over the unpacking, over the waiting. Finally my mom gave the go ahead and I bolted to the playground, eventually exhausting myself with the swinging, running, and playing. Let’s just say I slept well that night. 

. . .

     The time had come. We stood at the entrance to the amusement park and gazed our curious look over all we could see. After quickly buying the tickets we ventured in at last. While I still held my mother’s hand, I was nervous. The nervousness was soon overpowered by pure joy, however. While my father held my young brother, barely able to mutter words, my mother accompanied us on the rides. There was the play train, suspended at least fifty feet in the air, showing a landscape view of the wondrous dreamland. There was everything my young mind could imagine or want. There were sweets, rides, and petting zoos. The summer air was perfect, not too hot, not too windy and the sky was clear, the sun covered us in warm rays. The smell of food the vendors sold was prominent in that summer air, fries, cotton candy, such a sweet aroma filling my lungs and such a sweet taste on my tongue.

     Following that and a few other rides was the ever coveted “Log Flume”. My mother, sister, and I filed into the long, plastic, hollow, “Log”, and it begun. A slow buildup, an amusing trip through fake scenery, fake animals, all along a narrow waterway guided by metal bars under the log. I kicked my legs in the log excitedly, feeling them bump against the plastic, a smile wide on my face. I was in the front, front and center. Then the incline started, a forty-five degree angle to our doom. Or at least my heart raced like it was. We rounded the crest, my heart in my throat and my eyes as big as sand dollars, the sounds of rushing water surrounded me. At the peak of the amusement park, quite possibly the highest point, the log rushed down the decline, spraying water out its sides like a car going through a puddle, dousing our shirts and faces with water. The thrill of it filled my little body with adrenaline. The rush continued to make my heart race as I staggered from the log, using my father’s hand for balance. I laughed and smiled, a smile that stayed plastered on my face until we left.

     After all that, amongst all the shenanigans, I even got a souvenir, in remembrance of that adventure that feels like a lifetime ago, still so significant in my memories. A magnet, commemorating that I found “Elves A to Z”. That was the only interesting prize though, considering both my sister and brother got it too. They still all have their rightful place on my refrigerator today, after so many years have passed. 

     I look at those sometimes and give a halfhearted smile. If only it were more vivid. If only I could go back to that fun time, before I was exposed to so much, when my heart and head were blissfully ignorant. However, I’m sure, I’ll find something to excite me just as much as that “Log Flume” did, something just as exciting as that Christmas in July. 

 
 

Three Words

By Serena H.

     I didn’t think much of him at first.  He was a scruffy, hairy little thing, and rather an ugly shade of chestnut at that.  His name- Emerson, someone had said- was too long to fit properly on his halter, so the last few letters were squashed together. He stood there in the full sun, happily chewing away at the wooden post he was tied to.

     The first time I rode him didn’t really change my opinion; he was lazy, and prefered to take tiny, bouncy steps if he absolutely had to move.  But I soon grew to love him. I became used to his tiny chestnut face greeting me, his funny, shrill whinny, and though I wouldn’t say I loved him, I developed an attachment to him, to his bouncy canter, his awkward jump, and his habit for eating anything within reach.  But I never knew how much I loved him until I had to leave him.

     In my last months of riding him, I got to lease him. He became the pony I always rode, and I could call him mine, and buy him things, and it was perfect. We went to a show together, and everyone told me how cute he was, and we jumped two feet, which felt like flying. I was the person that got to lead him around, load him onto the trailer, apply liniment to his legs. It was perfect, I kept telling myself. I’d had falls from him, but I didn’t really mind. If I ended up on the ground, I’d scramble to my feet and make sure he was okay. I knew that one day, I would have to move off him, and I knew it would hurt. But I always pushed that thought away, and told myself how perfect my pony was, savouring how it felt to call him mine.

     Until that fateful day, my last lesson riding him. It was only then that I realized that I loved him as much as I did. Then, when I knew I might never ride him again, never walk alongside him and tell him, for no particular reason, that he was the best pony ever.  Then, that I realized how much I would miss his high-pitched whinny, his bumpy canter, the way his mane stuck up on show days. The last day before my family left for the summer was the last time I rode him. I rode him bareback, my fingers tangled in his mane, keeping me on his back.

     I thought about him a lot that summer. I thought about how much I missed him, and how I wished he was there.  How much I wished that I could ride him right now. But now, standing here, my arms around his fluffy neck, so happy that now I am here with him, not miles away and wishing, wishing for the comfort of burying my face in his sweet-smelling chestnut coat, my lips form three words, not the words that have rung through my head the whole summer; “I miss you, I miss you,” but three different words; “I love you.”