This story is unrelated to the Western series I'm writing, and the Kat in the story is not the same character as Katherine Tudor.
My cousin and I were wandering around the Carnival last summer, on a Saturday, and we got lost. I had been divorced for six months, and I had had enough of existing alone inside a big empty house. He hadn’t even left me the cat for company. I decided I needed to get out of the house. I saw on the news that the Carnival was in town, so feeling nostalgic, I called up my cousin Kate, and we headed there.
Thankfully it wasn’t far from my house. They had set up the Carnival in a big field behind the hospital. It was a warm day with cloudless blue skies, but I felt cold in my heart. Not because of my ex, I was glad to see him go, but I felt like some significant part of me was missing and had been missing for a long time.
I hadn’t been to the Carnival in years, and it was much bigger than I remembered. They had added new rides and several new tents. I got lost looking for the barbeque tent and found myself in a part of the Carnival that wasn’t well lit and only had a small red tent with the front flap closed and a teenager seated behind a card table.
Curious, I walked closer.
“What’s in there, a fortune-teller?” I asked the girl.
“No. My grandfather, who is descended from the race called Jinn, can grant you a wish, the thing that you want most.”
“Really? I’ve never heard of that before,” I shrugged and turned away.
“I dare you to try it!” My cousin said. “What have you got to lose?”
“How much?” I asked.
I stared at her. “That’s a bit expensive, don’t you think?”
Now she shrugged. “How much is your heart’s desire worth to you?”
To this day, I don’t know why I did it. It may have been my cousin’s teasing and prompting, or it may have been something else.
I remember thinking if it cost that much, there must be something to it. I had a bit of a nest egg from the alimony settlement, so I could afford this. It would be entertaining if nothing else.
When I stepped inside, there was a grey-haired man seated at a small round table. There was an empty chair opposite him and a small wooden box on the table. The box looked antique, and it had strange carvings all over it.
I sat down on the chair across from him and said, “Hello,” and cleared my throat nervously.
“What is it you want?”
“Well, to have a wish granted, I guess. Something about the deepest desire of my heart, but I don’t even know what that is.”
“Drink this,” He handed me a bottle. I sipped it, and it tasted like a fine brandy, clearly alcoholic. It went right to my head and made me dizzy.
“If you don’t know the desire of your heart, what about regret? What is your greatest regret?”
I had to think about that one. When I was sixteen, I went into foster care, but that got me out of a bad home situation, so I didn’t want to change anything before that. But afterward, that had been the beginning of some of my worst mistakes.
“The mistakes I made the year I turned sixteen.”
“Focus on one event or one person.”
The biggest mistake had been… ”Dallas,” I said, my thoughts suddenly clearing. “He was my first love, but I messed it up with him.”
“Give me your hand. I’m going to prick your finger, place a drop of blood on the top of the box.”
I felt a faint sting as he poked my index finger with the tip of a long, thin knife, then guided my hand to the box where he pressed my bloody fingertip onto the top of the box.
He poured the remainder of the brandy into a glass mason jar and handed it to me. “Go home, sit on your bed and drink the rest of this. Ensure you are in a place where you can comfortably fall asleep because this potion works quickly. When you wake up, you will have your heart’s desire.”
I did as he said, I went back home, sat on the edge of my bed, and downed the brandy in a few swallows, there wasn’t much of it, about two fingers, and I laid down, drifting off to sleep in moments.
I woke up back at the Carnival, lying on the grass. I jumped to my feet and brushed the loose hay off me.
“My hands, what happened?”
The lines and spots on my hands that had developed over the years were suddenly gone, and my hands looked like they had was a teenager.
I hurried back to the tent of the Jinn, but it was gone. I spun around in circles, looking for the tent.
“Kat, what are you doing? Are you lost?”
It was Dallas. I was lost, but not in the way he meant. I knew what would happen next because I had already lived it once before. I was sixteen again.
This had been my first time at the Carnival in many years. I used to come here every year with my dad and sister, but that changed when we had to leave my grandma’s house, and it was just the three of us. Dad worked all the time, and things just went from bad to worse. I felt lost, not just at this Carnival, but in my entire life.
Ninth grade in a new school. It sucked. It was the worst of times and the suckiest of times.
I had to leave all my friends at my old school, just when school was becoming exciting, and I finally grew boobs, and I was coming out of my shell. My home life was terrible, I didn’t want to be at this new school, so I wasn’t in a reasonable frame of mind to make new friends, and it showed, so I was shunned and labeled a loser.
But not by him.
Dallas was lovely to me; he was intelligent and funny, easy to talk to from our first meeting.
One time, our science teacher showed the class some boring science movie, and I pulled out a book and held it under the edge of the table, reading it. Dallas reached over and took it away from me, saying, “You shouldn’t read in the dark. It will ruin your eyes.”
He had a point, though it wasn’t that dark. Now, if it had been anyone else, I would have went off and told him in colorful terms that it wasn’t his business, but I could never get angry at Dallas.
Summer came, and the Carnival with it. Dallas was there with a couple of our mutual friends who were on the shortlist of people I could tolerate at that time.
Dallas and I rode the Ferris wheel, and I asked him not to flip the carriage, which he was polite enough not to do. Looking back, I wish I had been less of a chicken and let him turn the carriage upside down. I’ve never been on the Ferris Wheel with another guy in all these years.
He invited me back to his house, which I jumped at. I was in foster care at the time and dying to get out and live on my own. I went to his house and smoked weed with Dallas and his friends.
I’d never seen eyes so blue, like the song “Magic Man” by heart.
*Come on home, girl,” he said with a smile. “You don’t have to love me yet, and let’s get high awhile.”
Dallas was tall, blond, and blue-eyed. Those beautiful eyes revealed a soul that was equal parts angel and villain. He set the standard for every guy I would date after him, and none of them could hold a candle to him.
I did love him right away. It was a blissful six months that we dated until I screwed it all up because I was all messed up, myself. I broke a beautiful thing with my immaturity.
The following year I had to transfer to yet another school. After I graduated, I saw Dallas around a few times until he moved to a different state.
Thank God for the invention of social media! I found him again, not long ago, when he showed up in a “People you may know” alert. He’s been married and divorced, as have I. Though our moment has long passed, and we are in committed relationships with other people,
Dallas was my first love and always will be. Even after twenty-five years, I still love him, and I’m thankful for his friendship. Oh yeah, and his eyes are still just as blue as ever. He has gotten better with age. I’ve never wished to live any part of my life over again, except for him. If I could travel back in time and change the choices I made, he alone would be worth the effort.
Now, it appeared I had what many people wish for but rarely get the opportunity: to go back and undo a tragic mistake.
I took a deep breath. “I’m not lost. I was looking for you.”