The sky was dark with rolling clouds and crows filled the barren trees. Their caw was loud, frightening, their song was like a warning that maybe we should stay away. In the distance, we could see the Ferris wheel bold, fearsome and silhouetted against the deep blue and gray sky. Lightning bolts flashed across the sky coming so close to the wheel yet never striking as if they were protecting it from our intrusion. On they walked toward the bolted gate Gabriella wanting one last ride before the angels came for her, and come they would, for this was what they did, guiding the mortals to the other side, past the veil knowing eternity waits. The Gatekeeper was walking their way from the darkened warehouse, keys in hand, a shadow walking within the light.
Grant and Gabriella met here at the Carnival in the spring of 67. The seaside town was small just a few cafes and bars. The Carnival was what drew people to the little town, and everyone had to ride the Ferris wheel. It was the biggest one that most people had ever seen, painted in bold colors of blue and red, festive colors. The Shag Dance was popular to the younger crowds that came here for the summer. It was there that they met, him watching her dance and their eyes meeting often. He was here for a few nights before going to sea. He was a pilot, and he was confident and a bit self-assured. As the midnight hour grew near, he asked her to dance, and they danced to several songs and rode the Ferris wheel until the Carnival shut down for the night.
The angels watched as they walked the beach and could see that Grant and Gabriella were in love. They had come for her as it was here time, yet the angels could not agree. The one said Gabriella had never known love and she had many great things to do if she stayed. I see her having a long life filled with love and kindness to many people, truly making a difference. They agreed to watch through the next few years and talk again sometime in the future. Time meant very little to them.
Gabriella was accustomed to sensing ghosts and angels. She felt that they surrounded her, protected her, and knew what was best for her. Her first memory of them was as a young child. Her father left one night, never to return. Nothing was ever said about the departure and her memories faded through the years.
At first, there would be small gifts that would arrive. Gabriella recalled a gold locket, Easter cards, and tiny music boxes, addressed to her with no return address. Her favorite was a music box with a miniature ballerina that would twirl as the music played. She could see the wheel in the center that, when wound, would spin with each moment plucking a metal piece that made the music play. Once the spinning was over, the music would stop until she rewound it. Her youthful imagination believed the gifts were from her guardian angels sent to comfort her.
As the years progressed, she found a passion for observing the many patterns in life, forever captivated with circles and the spinning they created. She loved music and dancing. Her body felt free to move with the rhythm guided by her ever-present angels. She never much cared if she danced alone because to her, she never really was. Many had thought that her imagination was a sign that perhaps she was not entirely in touch with the realities of the world. She didn’t much care. She felt the presence of ghosts and angels that never left her.
She always looked forward to when the Carnival came to town. The giant Ferris Wheel would be constructed piece by piece. She would sit and watch in awe as it slowly would take form. Then, when it was fully built, the wheel would spin as if it represented the circle of life. People would wait patiently in line to ride in one of the cars. She imagined that time stood still while riding the grand wheel, as if becoming in perfect synchronicity with time itself.
She was considering the ability of the Ferris Wheel to freeze time when he asked her to dance. She felt it might be crowded with the spirits that always seemed to surround her, but she accepted all the same. That night the spirits felt more like a bubble protecting her than dancing with her trying to forever whisk her away elsewhere, into an unknown, where the dancing would last forever. The music never faded. It was that night that she first felt love.
Gabriella could feel the excitement knowing that soon the lights would come on and she would rise high into the night sky and feel the breeze on her face. She loved the Ferris wheel and the memories it brought to her. Grant and the Gatekeeper walked down the causeway and turned on all the lights that still worked. Out of the darkness, the Ferris wheel lit the night sky bringing a big smile to Gabriella’s face and a loving warmth in her heart. She knew that Grant had worked night and day to give her this for their Fiftieth anniversary.
Gabriella had been sick, and they were not sure that she would make it to celebrate this milestone. She had felt so bad watching Grant build this for her, yet as the sky wheel grew higher each day, she felt a bit better, a bit stronger. She knew that as she grew stronger Grant seemed to grow weaker each day. His love for her was healing, powerful, a love that was always there for her.
She laughed as he stopped the wheel and they stepped into the cart and rose high in the night sky. They were happy, in love, and filled with the joy of a good life. The two angels were there knowing that Grant asked each night for them to heal Gabriella. His faith was strong and his love for Gabriella was boundless. Soon they knew they had to return with only one of these wonderful people. But it would not be tonight.