Amusement for the Soul

There’s a strange movement to mountain towns.  Like everything in them is made of thick molasses, trickling slowly in summer, frozen into a solid mass of Amber come first frost.

People mull about, scattered loosely along the boarded up lakeside docks, bundled up and smoking cigarettes, the thick smoke mingling with foggy breath.  Twinkling lights illuminate the nearly empty streets, strung from naked boughs that reach out like claws, silhouetted against the sky.  The cobblestone roads are gray and unwelcoming, lacquered in a sheen of mist kicked up by the turbid waters of the lake.  No boats are out; instead the chopping waters churn about in chaos, their silver wing tips licking at the sky.

And down the pathway, at the end of the cobblestone road, lies an abandoned amusement park.  The horses on the merry go round stare off into the horizon, their glassy eyes absorbing the cool, setting sun.  Immortalized by cheap gimmickry, they sit imprisoned by the gilded bars that fondly recall the bittersweet memory of a child’s hand. Trash collects in gutters; the wind picks up a stray cup and sends it spiraling across the graveyard of lost childhoods.  The red striping paint has lost its luster, chipping off in candy apple flecks that settle like dandruff in little piles upon the earth.  The tattered canvas roof blows in the wind, its billowing tented shape deformed by gusty breaths of air.  Void of screaming children, the winds announce their presence with a symphony of sound.

The ticket window, coated in a fine sheet of dust, is draped in cobwebs.  The rusty gates swing on their hinges, creaking in loud protest against the icy chill.  Everything is illuminated against the hazy gray filter that blankets the land.

Time stands still in mountain towns.  Calendars are never replaced, for the date never changes.  Everything is eclipsed in this moment of time, frozen like the clumping ice that lines the meandering highway.  Day is born into night and night into day so slowly you can’t be certain it’s happening.  This is why I come here.  To these little forgotten towns that grace the bottom of a valley.  It is perfectly and utterly still here.  Quiet.  Peaceful.  My life, turbid like the glacial waters of the lake, craves this solitude.  And so I come for my fill.

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