12:02:02 am on
Tuesday 20 Apr 2021

One More Ride
AJ Robinson

I often write of Martha’s Vineyard, an island off the east coast of Massachusetts. That’s nothing new. Anyone that reads my stories, on a regular basis, knows I love the Island.

The Flying Horses.

After all, the Island was and is an important part of my life. Central to that special place is the Flying Horses, the oldest operating platform carousel in America; it’s in Oak Bluffs to be specific. I rode the Flying Horses, often, in my youth.

These days, I frequently dream of the Flying Horses; a dream in which my mother is featured. Since the pandemic hit, we’ve been unable to visit her. I’ve felt distanced from her and worry for her being alone.

My dream reflects not being able to visit with here. It’s always the same: I ride one of the noble steeds of the carousel and try to catch the brass ring. Mom, every faithful, ever loving, sits patiently at the end of one of the simple wooden benches placed nearby for just that purpose. The bell rings, the carousel starts to turn, I wave to her and, as I pass, she smiles, gently.

“Watch me, Mommy.” I call the words out loudly. “Watch me try to catch the brass ring.”

As the carousel speeds up the ring arm goes out, I and others on the ride try to snatch the rings. Then the strangest thing happens. The walls of the building shimmer and change; I feel as if I’m inside some sort of movie theatre.

On the walls flash images of my past. I see mommy making me tea and Cream of Wheat; she also teaches me how to paint a picture. We go to the beach, but, of course, she never gets in the water; in the evening she reads me bedtime stories.

My favourite, of all books was a comic book. An Uncle Scrooge story. I loved how she did the voices and the way she said the last line. I still remember it to this day, all these decades later: “I like to dive around in it like a porpoise, and burrow through it like a gopher, and toss it up and let it hit me on the head.” I so wanted a pile of coins just so I could do that, too, even just once.

Then the ride ended.

Finally, came the end of the ride. I hadn’t caught the brass ring. Still sitting atop my wooden steed, I called out to mom.

“One more ride, Mommy, can I have one more ride?” She smiled, nodded and bought the ticket for me. Again, the bell rang, the carousel began its journey and once more I tried vainly to catch that elusive brass ring.

More images flashed by me. I saw mommy helping me learn to play the organ, caring for me when I was sick and, most especially, when I broke my arm; we went to feed ducks at Sunset Lake, we climbed the Clay Cliffs of Gay Head, when you were still allowed to do it and before the town changed itis name.

There were Christmases and birthdays, lunches at a Howard Johnson restaurant or IHOP; helping me enter my art in the Art Festival for children at the Tabernacle. Oh yes, the Tabernacle it featured in a great many of those memories: potluck suppers and Wednesday Night Sings.

Then there were fireworks at Edgartown or Oak Bluffs and flying my kite at Ocean Park. Yet, all too soon, the ride ended.

This time I was triumphant. I caught the brass ring. I turned to her to share in my joy. Yet, it was not to be, her place on the bench was empty.

That didn’t make sense. Mommy would never leave me. The manager came to me; I was still seated on the stallion.

“I’m sorry, son. Your time here is over. Time to move on.”

“I caught the brass ring,” I complained. “I wanted my mother to see that.” He smiled, saying, “She saw you in the best times of your journey and helped you through the tough parts; for her that’s all that matters.”

The Flying Horses grew dark. The patrons dispersed. I had to sadly plod away.

It was time to move on. I can’t say I like this dream, as the ending always shatters my heart at the thought of being parted from her, but that’s the reality of our new normal, at least for a while. The journey and the smile on the face of my mother make it bearable.

One more chance.

To see her smile, I would endure anything. I’d say that that’s better than any brass ring. I hope I have another chance to grab the brace ring.

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Working, again, as an engineeer, after years out of the field due to 2009 recession and slow recovery, Robinson finds time to write. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true. His teen vampire adventure novel, "Vampire Vendetta," will publish in 2020. Robinson continues to write books, screenplays and teleplays and keeps hoping for that big break.

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