ATLANTIC CITY 1985
by Andrea Jackson

In the wind, the spokes are a fuzzy pale disc, and the flutter
of plastic against the wooden stick modulates to a hum.  The
wind lifts your hair and beats against your face.  The stick
vibrates in your hand; you hold it tightly.  You smell hot dogs
and look up at your father, shading your eyes with your free
hand.  The head at the top of the tower that is your father
looks huge, as if some day it will fall off and crush you.  
“We’ll get something back at the motel,” he says, but you
fear he will forget, he will get lost in some argument.  Besides,
the motel is far away, too far when you are so tired.  Now
the pinwheel is revealed to be a worthless construction of
wood and plastic and sun and wind with no relevance to the
serious problems of your life.  You toss it aside, onto the
boardwalk.  Immediately, you fear consequences.  You look
up at your looming father, but he is staring at a woman in a
yellow swimsuit who is eating a yellow popsicle.  You wish
you had a yellow popsicle.  You trail behind your father so
he doesn’t notice that you have thrown away your toy.  You
are sure it will make him angry, as if it were really his own toy.  
You turn and see a big boy on a skateboard snatch up the
pinwheel and disappear into the crowd of scowling teenagers
and young families with strollers.  In his hand it looks
tantalizing and fun again.  You start to cry quietly.  You
didn’t want to come here.  You wanted to go to the quiet
beach where you went yesterday.  You loved that beach.  
Your parents always do what they want, never what you
want.  Your father turns to watch the woman with the yellow
popsicle walk away behind you.  Then he looks at his watch
and down at you.  “What are you doing back there?  Hurry
up!”  He looks angry.  You walk slowly because you’re
tired and hungry and hot and because any minute he will
notice that you’ve lost the pinwheel.  Finally you catch up to
him.  “What happened to your pinwheel?” he asks.  “I don’t
know,” you say, shading your eyes.  You look up at him and
wait.  A group of teenage boys, bare-chested and walking
tough, approaches from behind him and separates, a river
of sweat and bravado flowing around the island of you and
your father.  He bends down and picks you up.  As he
carries you the rest of the way to the motel, the bright flags,
the faint gull-like cries of children, the recurring geometry of
wooden boards under your father’s steady tread, the smell
of sweat and sunscreen, and the rhythmic stride of your
father’s long legs merge into a sleepy hum.








_____________________________________________________


Andrea Jackson has an MFA from the University of Missouri-
St. Louis.  Her biography/memoir,
Who Am I and Where Is
Home? An American Woman in 1931 Palestine
, was published
in 2017.  Jackson’s fiction and poetry have appeared in various
journals including
Gyroscope Review, Heron Tree, and The
Tishman Review
.  She lives in St. Louis, Missouri.  More
information is available on her
website.    


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Apple Valley Review:
A Journal of Contemporary
Literature
 

ISSN 1931-3888

Volume 12, Number 2
(Fall 2017)

Copyright © 2017
by Leah Browning, Editor.  

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Valley Review
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