A female couple is standing arm in arm under the Ferris wheel waiting for the world-renowned iron construction to start spinning.
"A very quiet attraction", one of the two women say. She is wearing a black T-shirt, bright red trousers and has blond hair. "Like you", she says after a little while to her girlfriend who is wearing sunglasses and a straw hat and is reaching for her hand.
The friend is shuddering. "I can´t stand it when you say that I´m like this or like that. You are doing that constantly since we left Berlin", she says and pushes her away. "That´s not true", Blackshirt says, surprised about the anger that she has caused with her well-intentioned remark. Strawhat turns away and heads for the inside of the Viennese amusement park Prater. "I´m about to show you something that is just like you!"
"Alright", Blackshirt says, following her, "wait for me, don´t run so fast!"
Strawhat stops and is pointing her index finger. "Here – the roller coaster."
"And?" Blackshirt takes her hand off Strawhat and looks at her expectantly.
"You wish!" Strawhat says, tearing herself away and running off, holding her hat.
"That is mean!" Blackshirt shouts. Strawhat doesn´t stop, doesn´t turn around, is getting small and smaller and finally disappears from the field of vision.
Walking a few steps alone
"I say something nice to her and she is getting mad. I´m not up for this right now."
Blackshirt leans on the railing that surrounds the water coaster and looks around. A chain is pulling plastic tree trunks that serve as boats steeply upwards and rattles loudly. A man with a dog is shooting down a steep gutter, high fountains splashing over the sides. An old man stands up holding onto his shoulders, enjoying the spray of water that falls on his face. Blackshirt can literally feel it. "Sit down, dad, sit down", the man says. The old man doesn´t listen, the dog is barking, the son is telling off the dog.
Blackshirt walks away, looking around for Strawhat but can´t find her anywhere. The air is filled with dull musical rhythms from all corners of the amusement park, from afar and close. Four boys and girls hold onto the bars and spin high in the air in a huge swing, screaming as loudly as they can. "Look at him, he´s ready to throw up", a woman says and both she and Blackshirt walk away a few steps so they can´t be hit by vomit just in case.
Gorilla, devil, wheelchair, child
On the opposite side, a big, mechanical gorilla stands motionless behind a high fence. A child is looking up at him, almost losing its balance. A skull is raising and lowering a red and a green devil. Muffled cries emerge from the ghost train, glass is breaking, a monster is laughing, and a woman in a wagon disappears through a swing door with cobwebs made of cotton wool glued to it.
A few steps away the autodrom ticket seller is eating a big kebab with one hand and is steering an empty car to the edge of the driving surface with the other. A true virtuoso. A young man with a disability is holding the steering wheel always in the same position, always driving the same round in circles and doesn´t show any emotion – most likely tension, if any. The man sitting next to him reaches into the steering wheel when he worries that they might drive against the edge. How would it be to experience the Prater in a wheel chair? Blackshirt finds this a rather sad idea at first but then the idea comes to her mind that somebody could lift her out of the wheel chair and put her into the roller coaster.
Is that Strawhat over there drawing a bow and shooting?
Piercing cries go through the air. A few boys return excitedly from a roller coaster ride and go back to someone who has been waiting outside. They all speak at once and move on, ready for adventures, past a child that is looking at them with big, serious eyes.
Strawhat is lying on a bench, the sunglasses on her nose, in the shadow of a big tree.
"Hello, pretty lady." Blackshirt drops down next to Strawhat onto the bench. "Oh, that was nice. Lots of movement, so many happy excited people and so many kids. I can´t get enough of it."
Strawhat is rubbing her eyes beneath her sunglasses and yawns. "I´ve gotten tired. Do you feel like going over to the Danube? It can´t be far away. Today is such a nice day, we could go for a swim."
"Look! Over there children are riding horses. Come on, let´s watch this closely." Blackshirt pulls up Strawhat who initially fights back but finally gives in and hangs onto her girlfriend´s neck as to make her walking easier. "Damn, my legs are tired, I can hardly walk, I need to go for a swim, right now, let´s get into the water." Blackshirt laughs about Strawhat´s jokes, grabs onto her firmly and drags her along. "You´re gonna make it, you´re gonna make it, soon we are there."
Children in the riding arena
Under a shelter that is covered with tarps, children are waiting for their turn. Several small and big horses are attached to a gate with a leash, nibbling on everything they can reach with their muzzles.
A boy is climbing on a bench so he can be at eye level with the horses. "You can pet the horse", one of the stable lads who lift the children onto the horses and tie them to the saddles says, "but watch out, only hold out the palm of your hand." The boy reaches out, holds his palm out to the horse but pulls it back quickly when the horse is coming closer, flaring its nostrils and snorting. The boy tries again. This time he succeeds in petting the horse´s muzzle and a broad smile is beaming on his face.
A small, serious looking girl returns from an obstacle course and regarding the mother´s question if she liked it, she answers with a slow, firm nod. The two stable lads are joking with each other while preparing the next child for its round. In the ticket office behind a glass panel the boss is counting banknotes.
Blackshirt who follows the actions on the riding arena carefully feels that Strawhat is laying her head onto her shoulder hugging her. A little while later, she feels that Strawhat is trembling, pressing her head on her shoulder as if she was crying.
"What´s going on?" Blackshirt asks and strokes Strawhat´s back, "what´s wrong with you?"
"These children", Strawhat whispers, "these children seem so happy. And… I´m happy to have you… and that you are here and I´m with you." Blackshirt slowly strokes Strawhat´s back, watching a boy proudly return from his horse ride. "I´m really pleased to hear that", Blackshirt whispers.
The invisible key
The two women stroll hand in hand through the Prater, following the route planner to Praterstern and are welcomed by the sun at Donauinsel after a few minutes in the underground train. Through a window on the platform, they can see down to the long sparkling body of water that in the distance becomes a blur, misty and green. On the right side, they discover extensive wooden terraces with people enjoying their summer evenings, chatting, playing and relaxing. Boats are on the water, swans are looking for food on the riverbanks.
"You are…", Blackshirt says, smirks and closes her mouth with an invisible key.
"Today I am even the Ferris wheel for you, a – like you said – very quiet attraction." Strawhat speaks into the sun through the window on the platform. "I am an attraction, that´s right, but hardly ever a quiet one, am I? However, I like rotating rides in amusement parks and am always on the move, so that fits exactly. However, that´s only words and moments and words evaporate, moments evaporate, and what remains is something different. What remains is the memory, the silence. It´s somewhat ridiculous but it is what it is. In this respect I´d like to accept your compliment." Strawhat looks at Blackshirt and smiles. "What now, surprised?"
"I", Blackshirt starts and wants to set it straight that she didn´t mean her comment literally but only wanted to say something nice to Strawhat but she refrains from giving that explanation and smiles.
"I´m looking forward to drinking a beer with you. Down there. Come on, let´s go. Once again, you have had a good nose with the Donauinsel. Today is our lucky day."
Interesting links to the story
Historical information in "Wien Geschichte Wiki" (Vienna History Wiki) – (German):
Drawing: Sandra Biskup
Text: Simon Kovacic
Translation: Doris Nicht