The late August evening air was 10 degrees colder with windchill, but that didn’t bother Marcus or Teddy. The two sat at the top of an old Ferris wheel, suspended for a moment as Clyde let on another couple. There was a small space between the two of them, but their hands hung at their sides and their pinkies grazed ever so slightly. Marcus felt electrified. He hadn’t been this close to Teddy since they were standing in line to get their photo IDs taken at the beginning of the summer.
The sky was burnt orange as the sun set over the carnival. Teddy stared out into nothing and let out an exasperated sigh. “I don’t think I can do it, Marcus.”
Marcus pulled back his hand and dug his too-long fingernails into his palm. He glared at the back of Teddy’s caramel neck and wondered what it would be like to kiss it. “Do what?”
Teddy turned to face Marcus and caught his glare. The Ferris wheel started with a creak. “You know what.”
The ride was in full swing now after Clyde let on the last of their other co-workers. It was the end-of-summer party, and the park was already closed for the year. Teddy would be going home to Atlanta, and Marcus would stick around here and go back to working nights at his mother’s diner. It seemed unfair.
They both wore the red-and-white pinstripe T-shirts of a games employee. They’d spent the whole summer in stalls across from each other, competing to see who could wrangle in the most customers over the bullhorn. Teddy always won, but that didn’t stop Marcus from goading him on, claiming he was the inferior.
“I don’t know what you mean,” Marcus lied.
Teddy grabbed Marcus’ hand and pleaded for him to look into his eyes. “She’d know. She always knows.”
Teddy’s mother was a Christian, and she had no patience for what she called his “affliction." She’d caught him with another boy at the end of the summer last year. He never told Marcus about it, but all the park employees knew. She had the boy fired, telling their boss that he had been harassing Teddy for weeks, even though that was far from the truth. Word spread fast — stay away from the boy with the shy brown eyes.
The ride sped up as Clyde depressed the lever further than he normally allowed it to go. Any other day of the year and he’d be fired for this, but at the end-of-the-year party, anything goes. Marcus slid closer to Teddy by the sheer force of gravity. Their thighs tensed up and Marcus could feel all the blood rushing from his head to other, more urgent vestiges of himself. He grabbed Teddy’s face and kissed him hard on his unseasonably chapped lips. He didn’t care if he never saw the boy again, or if he lost his job because of it. And in that moment, as the sun set and summer ended, he thought that maybe the Ferris wheel would never stop spinning. And that would be a good thing, because he was exactly where he wanted to be.