She was eighteen when she was taken. Ripped from my arms like wrapping paper from a gift. Samantha was a precious jewel, one that I had taken for granted for so long. Her mother was too lenient, and I would live out the rest of my days hating her for it. If I had only been there, she would never have gone to that fair.
I had never trusted carnival rides. They were taken apart and reassembled so many times that, in my estimation, it was too dangerous to participate in such activities. Samantha had been punished for some stupid teenaged thing that I would spend my lifetime trying to recall. Had she come home past curfew? Did we find some weed in her dresser? Had she been taking too many foolish risks since graduating from high school the month prior? It could have been any of those things, as our daughter was a free spirit and wont to do things her way.
She had begged and pleaded with us to go on a date with her boyfriend, and we refused. Little did I know that my wife acquiesced, and off she went while I was at work. My wife later reasoned that she let her go because she was afraid that if Samantha wasn't allowed to go, she'd just go behind our backs and get herself killed. In my opinion, she was worse off having gone in the first place.
That night, Samantha and Gregory were on the tilt-a-whirl. The music was blaring, the kids were screaming, and Samantha's lap bar did not hold her in properly. The ride went one way at some point, and Samantha went the other.
Straight into the gears of the machine. The ride stopped a couple of seconds later, but not soon enough. Samantha had sustained irreversible brain damage due to the blunt force trauma to her head. We were devastated.
Her doctors have stated that she would never recover from this "persistent vegetative state", whatever that meant. The night before, I had gone to Toys R' Us to buy our son a battery-operated erector set for having had a remarkable report card. That would have to wait.
I went back to the carnival three days later to disassemble the rides. First the ferris wheel, then the merry-go-round, and then the bloody tilt-a-whirl. I then went back to the hospital with the erector set. See, during the day, I took apart the gears that caught my little girl, and I built it in her bedroom, so loud and so bright, the way she had been. She had a miniature tilt-a-whirl spinning around in her room, complete with flashing lights and a small stereo for sound. It was in the hopes of bringing her out of her unconsciousness that I did this. It didn't work.
I don't think my wife will ever forgive me for that.