Fiction 2018 / Spring 2018 / Volume 48

Spun Sugar—Claire Tollefsrud

Adrian and Adrienne grew up in the same town, same school. They saw each other in
passing and didn’t spare a second thought, not as children, not as adolescents, not until one day at the spring fair when they were almost grown. He was 18 and she was seven months younger.

That day some primal force knocked the air from their lungs, and drew them together
with magnetic potency. They held hands on rides. Adrian bought Adrienne cotton candy, and they ate it together, licking sticky fingers with eager lips and easy smiles. Their first kiss was the same—candy-sweet and gone too soon.

All summer they biked through their suburban streets and rode those fairground rides.
They learned each other’s secrets. Adrian liked computers and paint. Adrienne loved movies, and dancing with him to late-night songs. They learned their favorite color was blue, the best slushy was cherry, and of course they had the same name. So alike. So familiar. They learned how to kiss each other’s necks, how to sneak beers from the fridge, and how to make love behind the broken carousel.

Adrian and Adrienne fell in love. They cuddled on benches with foreheads touching,
breathing the same air, tickling each other’s cheeks with their eyelashes. They let the feelings flow between them, felt their connection like feather-soft wings, letting each other in. Letting each other matter.

And then the summer was over. Faster than the blink of an eye it was gone, and Adrian
packed up his things. He was off to Arizona to study computer science and art. That last night, Adrian and Adrienne walked hand and hand to the fairground where they first met. The signs said ‘CLOSING’ but the cotton candy machine still ran, so he bought her one like the first day they met, and they sat on the broken carousel.

Adrienne’s insides were stone-like. She sat with Adrian, their shoulders touching, but
there were so many things to say that nothing was ever said. Time passed. She could see the excitement and distraction in Adrian’s eyes, could tell he was ready leave the fairground and get on his plane to Arizona. Could tell he was ready to leave her behind.
Adrienne faked a smile. She kissed him goodbye and told him to go.

Then she sat with her uneaten cotton candy, staring after him into the night, and the sky
began spitting cold autumn rain. Adrienne didn’t move. She held her fairground treat up like a torch and let the sickly sweetness melt onto her hands. The spun sugar gradually dissolved like sunsetting summer days, beading and condensing and disappearing. She called his name—her name, their name—one more time, into the night. And then it was autumn.

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