We met at the End of the World Fair and decided to die together. Amidst the dodgems and the whirling teacups, with candyfloss in our hair, I fell in love when there was no time left. He was tall and fair, with eyes like the deep green sea and a laugh like the crash of breaking waves on a summer holiday. I thought he worked there at first, because he was helping a wee lassie who had got lost at the coconut shy, but he was just being kind.
“Not many folk would bother to help a kiddy find her ma this night of all nights,” I said to him, and he shrugged, all breezy.
“Have you lost your ma?” he asked me. “Shall I find her for ye?”
But it wasn’t my mother I wanted then, it was him, and more time.
We rode the ghost train, which didn’t seem scary any more, and talked about things we had done with our lives. Not much, in my case. He’d travelled a bit, been to sea in a peagreen boat, working his passage round the Med.
“But I got a bit homesick, to tell the truth, and I came home again.”
“To find your ma?”
He laughed, and said I was being unfair. We were already easy enough to tease each other.
We rode the Hellraiser roller-coaster, and talked about what we would have done, if we had more time ahead of us.
“I’d have joined the army,” I told him. He looked surprised.
“You – you know there was no way to fight them, don’t you? I mean if I thought we could, I’d … but we’ve barely got rockets to go to the moon, and they’re running through the galaxy blowing up suns …”
“I know, I know!” As if I might think he was a coward! “I didn’t want to fight anyone, let alone those … I just wanted to help people. Only way I could think of seeing the world, and I thought I’d dig wells and build hospitals in disaster zones and one day I’d tell my bairns all about it.”
He squeezed me tight, and for a little while we were quiet, just watched the lights of the Big Wheel swinging up into the night and back down again.
We climbed the helter-skelter, though the queue was massive long. There were marshals on the stair since all those suicide jumpers on the first day. But most folk that night were like us, just wanting to get up high, to see the sky, see if the horizon was burning yet, and then ride the mats down.
“D’ye think we’ll know when it happens?” I asked him, holding tight to his arm, as if we had known each other for ever.
He was silent at first, then sort of sighed, and pointed, east towards the Firth. A line of green fire was spitting at the clouds, and we felt the first tugs of the wind.